Everyone loves to complain about too much email.
But face it, you know you love it, or at least, you have a love-hate relationship.
Email is today’s busy meter. You know, that measuring stick that shows how busy you are. By the way, is it uniquely American to brag about how much work we do? Seems like everyone does it, and email is an easily translatable way to measure busy across jobs because everyone has an inbox.
For example, tell someone you have 500 unread messages each morning. You’ll either get a headshake, sorry-for-you, sentiment because, wow, you’re busy, or you’ll get a topper who gets double that, on a weekend.
Every new product needs an email hook (a.k.a. bacn) if it wants to succeed. The number one requested feature for Connect is email digests for group activity, same thing for Mix when we managed it. I’m not fundamentally opposed to building this feature, but I doubt it would increase use very much.
It’s funny that many of the people who want email from Connect also complain they have too much email.
If Connect sent bacn to group members, that mail would join a host of less important, unread mail collecting in people’s inboxes. Once opened, digest mail from Connect would be read only. So, the person would still need to go to Connect to comment.
So, I removed a barrier and replaced it with the same barrier, i.e. the need to login to Connect to comment. I suppose I saved some time by making it easier to see what, if any, content is interesting. Still, this doesn’t feel like a big win.This is why feeds fail too because if you add them to an inbox, new items make you feel more busy, with more unread mail.
Email has a psychological hold on us. For many, it’s the only way to document that you work and what you’ve done, e.g. say you work on a project that’s eventually canceled. What’s the easiest way to prove you actually worked on it a year later?
Provide the email.
There are business and legal ramifications around email too, so it’s always good to have records.
I hate deleting email, so I’ve been saving it locally for years and using Google Desktop to search it.
I recently reinstalled Jaunty, after a couple months of kernel panic, and when I rebuilt my local Thunderbird inbox, I realized it how slow it had become with eight years of email, amounting to Inbox and Sent files of several GB each.
When I came back to Oracle in 2001, my inbox was capped at 100 MB on the server. This hadn’t changed since the mid-90s. So, every couple months, rather than delete all my Trash and Sent and weed through my Inbox, I started saving messages locally.
Seems funny that my 10 GB harddrive was 100x bigger than my Inbox.
A few years later, I got bumped to 250 MB, but that tends to fill up pretty fast, especially since the corporate signature ranges from 4-10 KB, depending on how much is in there.
Why save it all?
Psychologically, I need a record of what I’ve done here. In this business, they’re aren’t a lot of concrete ways to show what you’ve done. Maybe you worked on a feature or launched a product, but most of the day-to-day stuff happens in email.
I decided to cut down that inbox into years to speed up the load time, which provided insight into how much email I sent and received, year-over-year. I guess 2006 was the height of busy for me, which makes sense because I managed a project across several geographies and time zones that year.
It’s not going to be replaced any time soon, and I’m starting to think services that tightly integrate with email have it right. So, rather than just build email digests for Connect, what we need to build is reply functionality too and posting functionality, like Posterous.
So, if the bacn you got from Facebook or Twitter allowed you to take action, would it be more useful/less annoying?
I love email, just as much as you do. You know you do, admit it.
It’s easy, you trust it, and everyone has it.
Find the comments.