Thursday, 12 May 2011

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Arik Jones on Failbox

I’m please to see Arik Jones keeping the Failbox torch burning – in a post on the need for a smarter email client

” However, it could group todays messages in a “top 25 most important” list. That’s all I’d ever see for an inbox. Talk about getting your email priorities straight.” – Arik Jones

And yes, he mentions Cullect as an example of a successful recommendation system. Guaranteed to catch my attention.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

FailBox: The Broken State of Email Clients – Part 3

“Last week a friend send me an email, while I was traveling. So he got my ‘out of office reply’.”- Wolfgang Luenenbuerger

Wolfgang goes on to describe how – in an age of instant messaging, mobile devices, and wifi – the ‘out of office’ reply is as anachronistic as the busy signal.

Both signals assume synchronicity and place are more valuable than the communication itself.

It’s rare that either are.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

FailBox: The Broken State of Email Clients – Part 2

I realized I had completely taken for granted the life-changing innovation that is near-infinite email storage when I received the following message

Your mailbox has exceeded one or more size limits set by your administrator.
Your mailbox size is 75286 KB.

Mailbox size limits:
You will receive a warning when your mailbox reaches 75000 KB. You may not be able to send or receive new mail until you reduce your mailbox size.

Items in all of your mailbox folders including the Deleted Items and Sent Items folders count against your size limit.

First, I have no idea how I accumulated 75 Gig of email in a few weeks on one of my lowest volume accounts, but let’s say I did.

Second, this system has the power to halt business (no sending or receiving of email), WTF? This is like the mail boy striking because people aren’t throwing the messages away fast enough. What qualifies the messenger the arbiter of value? Baffling.

Third, this is a business account, and I’m guessing lawyers would say it’s a good idea to save all professional correspondence. I know librarians in universities do.

On top of all this, I couldn’t actually take the action requested – the interface didn’t have a ‘Deleted Items’ or ‘Sent Items’ folder in it. Remarkable.

Failbox: The Broken State of Email Clients – Part 1

If you’re of a certain age, as I am, your first expose to email was probably in college or at work. Processing messages daily wasn’t difficult; the number of people that had access or reason to send you messages was low and messages arrived fairly infrequently.

So quaint and last century.

Today, I’m tracking 8 email accounts, multiple Twitter accounts, 1 phone, and a number of other accounts I check infrequently1. By a conservative guesstimate, I receive 400 incoming messages daily. I suspect this is lower than some of you and higher than others.

In this context, there’s no surprise Facebook, MySpace, etc have become a primary communication mechanisms for peer communication. The restricted context makes processing messages much easier if only by reducing the number of messages. Easy, like the scenario some of us started with.

Here’s a quick survey of popular email clients
Email Client (Initial Launch)
Apple’s (2001) direct descendant of NeXTMail (1991)
Hotmail (1996)
Microsoft Outlook (1997)
Yahoo Mail (1997)
Google Mail (2004)

While all of these applications have evolved and changed, their DNA is from a simpler time. A time with less email and no Twitter.

Spam has guaranteed receiving an email message is no longer a rare event, yet all of these clients insist on an unread indicator and its annoying little brother – the unread mail quantity indicator. All ordered reverse chronologically. Why a message has priority simply because it arrived last is baffling. Imagine lines at the IKEA managed via last-in-first-out. Riots would break out.

“My broader gripe is messaging fragmentation – creating a growing need for universal app to do mail, Twitter, Facebook, etc” – Julio Ojeda-Zapata

In Chris Anderson’s recent conversation with Russ Roberts, Chris Anderson digs into the economics of providing email clients for $0 (Yahoo, Google). It left me wondering if free is the innovation or if it’s preventing innovation.


“Personally, it feels like my Facebook stream is becoming an email inbox. I get a lot of messages, a few of them matter to me, and there are lots of business newsletters and promotions” – Jim Lastinger

1. Flickr, Facebook, Pownce, Skype.