I was provided with a reviewers copy of David Gewirtz' book, Where Have All the Emails Gone? Subtitled, "How something as seemingly benign as White House email can have freaky national security consequences," it was born out of a series of articles David wrote this year for an on-line magazine. This book expands upon his short articles. And it may make your head explode.
Chapter 1: Prepare to be freaked out
Chapter 2: A historical perspective
Chapter 3: Can email messages just disappear?
Chapter 4: Follow the domains
Chapter 5: Who runs GWB43.com?
Chapter 6: A detour into mob journalism
Chapter 7: The nightmare scenario
Chapter 8: An archiving plan only FEMA could love
Chapter 9: Migrating from Notes to Outlook
Chapter 10: Why did Karl Rove keep losing his BlackBerry?
Chapter 11: Understanding the root causes
Chapter 12: My formal recommendations
Chapter 13: The final questions
Appendix A: Letters from "Deep Mail"
Appendix B: An interview with Roger Matus on email archiving and retrieval
Appendix C: What your company can learn from the White House email problem
Appendix D: An interview with Marie Patterson on email storage and retrieval
Gewirtz begins the book by providing you the background to its birth, a series of articles that he wrote for an online magazine, but the story took on a life of its own as he continued to research the articles. In a nutshell, the White House admitted that it lost upwards of 5 million emails (this is government we are talking about - it is probably more than that) after Congress requested records of the firings of some United States Attorneys. From there, Gewirtz adds information concerning a mail migration at a very inopportune moment, questionable data backups, and nonexistent archiving. Peppered throughout the book at tips for your company, hard hitting questions for the White House, as well as Congress, and some interesting details about the use (and loss) of Blackberrys.
If you learn something from this book, it hopefully will be that your company operates in a much better IT management and compliance area. What Gewirtz found was shocking. You may think that email is boring, but it can be anything but. In this book, which is not a Democratic/Republican or liberal/conservative tome, you find a history of misuse and abuse of email. Not only that, but the lack of any verifiable controls or policies may lead to tragic events. One event, the migration of the White House mail from Notes to Outlook, took place during the ramp up to the war in Iraq. Gewirtz asks, many times, who's responsible for that great idea? No, not the actual Notes migration, but why then? Since I am on that topic, I find it hard to believe, that during the migration, that they "lost" that many emails. Not only that, but the fact that you haven't heard any White House staffers complain. But that isn't all. People routinely lose their Blackberrys, people that have sensitive information on them. Worse, it looks like the attitude is "Oh, well, get him another one." Frightening.
I didn't know quite what to expect from this book. I had read a couple of the articles that David published, but didn't think that he had enough material for a 214 page book. I was wrong. I think that he could have added more, but that would have made the book too technical. As it is, the book reads fast and is written in a casual style that will allow anyone to understand the concepts, background, and issues. Gewirtz includes additional information, on a special website, so that you read for yourself most of his research. A nice touch.
Email can be boring, but not when delivered in such a fine
Technorati tag: book review David Gewirtz emails gone
Comment posted by Ed Brill01/03/2008 05:09:21 PM
Thanks for the review, Gregg. Very helpful to understand the book.
one clarification -- the word "novel" is usually reserved for a work of fiction. Sadly, Gewirtz's book is anything but.
Comment posted by Gregg Eldred01/03/2008 10:03:56 PM
@Ed: Thanks for the edit.
I think that most of us in the Domino space would find the chapter on the Domino to Exchange migration an interesting read. David did a nice job with it.
Join The WebLog Revolution at BlogSphere.net