The term ‘Mission Creep’ is most often used in the context of military matters, the mission starts with a small an very focused objective, but over time becomes bigger and bigger in scope and resources. You only have to look at Iraq and Afghanistan to see the dictionary definition.

It is my theory that mission creep is not limited to military matters, it also happens in something as simple as Email. Over the years I have had several Email accounts. As I recall it was 1992 when I got my first ‘outside of work’ email address, prior to that time Email was an internal company system supplied by IBM.

Email in 1992 was easy to manage, not many people had computers in their home. Fewer still had dial up modems, Email was a private club. I received one or two emails a day.

The internet changed in 1995 when Microsoft Windows 95 was released. Suddenly the internet was a must have. Email though remained a calm area. To access it you had to be sat at your own computer, only your computer could connect to your inbox.

It did not take companies long to figure out that offering a webmail service would draw customers like flies to a honey pot. Storing the email on a server untethered the user, you could now access it from any internet connected computer.

Early adopters of this strategy were Microsoft with Hotmail and Yahoo. Of course there needed to be limits on just how much ‘free stuff’ people could have, I seem to recall the storage limit was 5-10 megabytes. At the time this was more storage than anyone could possibly use in a lifetime!

In 2004 the 800lb gorilla Google got into the game with Gmail, suddenly free storage was not measured in megabytes, it was gigabytes. I remember the Google pitch, with this much storage you will never need to delete another email.

Here is the problem of mission creep. I have a couple of Gmail accounts, one was destined for my private use, and one for traffic aimed at Blogger News Net. Over the years there has not only been mission creep, but function creep.

Most spam gets caught, but I am on a gazzilion distribution lists for Press Releases, news letters and offers for free cruises. I tend to pick and choose which emails I actually read, but am too lazy to get rid of the others. Mission creep is rampant.

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Even worse it the amount of storage that is being used!
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It seems that my email vault is over 10 gigs! Actually there are many attachments, eBooks, videos, music files, etc. But it is a great example of mission creep.
Even worse in many ways is my Blogger News Net account.

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I have over 20,000 unread emails.

But all of the unread emails are boring. Far right propaganda, left wing nonsense, and offers to win free stuff.

One day I will attempt to get rid of the crap, but it is rather like taking the garbage out, no-one wants to do it until the bag is over full.

Simon Barrett

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