Sunday, January 28, 2007

E-mail is Broken

In my opinion, e-mail is a broken method of contact. Most people claim to receive hundreds (or even thousands) of e-mail messages per day. There's no reason to doubt that claim, and that volume of e-mail is certainly inefficient. However, I believe e-mail can be fixed... Throw in some tagging, build priorities based on your network of people, and you now have a way to quickly sort through the noise. Is that too much to ask? It sure seems like it - most e-mail is categorized by the time received with no regards as to who sent it, what the e-mail contains, or any other important attributes. Here's how my hypothetical system would work;

Receiving e-mail:
  1. Upload my e-mail address book (or LinkedIn connections list)
  2. Assign those individuals a priority
  3. Create a list of tag priorities
  4. Received e-mail is categorized by tag(priority) + sender(priority)
Sending e-mail:
  1. Compose an e-mail and tag it
  2. When the user receives the e-mail, it is prioritized by tag(priority) + sender(priority)
  3. If I'm a high priority person, and the tags I used are high priority, then I'll be at the top
Will future versions of Outlook Express or GMail solve these issues? It's unlikely - and until then, it will be a pain in the ass to try and network for us non-Siliconites.

How does this affect me personally? I'm the one who wants to try and get in touch with people and network myself outward. It's kind of hard to do that when you're under a thousand other messages. So far, I have a pretty good network; it's still hard to get in touch with some of the people, but not impossible. I look forward to expanding my network over the coming months, and hopefully longer. I have family near Silicon Valley, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that I could make an appearance.


Anonymous said...

My feeling is that if this can be automated, that would be really great. For example, the email client can figure out
* how long you looked at an email
* how many times you opened it
* how many time you replied or forwarded
* how many times you deleted an email.

Recording this behavior over a period of time and then allocating weightage based on user activity can help categorize the emails in priority. In addition, the email client can give the user the ability to change priorities based on some error in calculation.

BTW, thanks for visiting my blog and posting the comment.

Robert said...

An automated function is a pretty good idea... Sort of like AI for e-mail :)

It is a really good idea, but not one that I could see turning into a business venture on it's own (more like a value added feature that Google or Microsoft would use in their own clients).

If you could develop and patent the back-end engine for such automation, I'm sure you'd have a few "buyers" on your hands.

Anyway, I've added your blog to my aggregator in return :)