Monday, December 03, 2007

The Definition of Inbox 2.0

A friend recently asked me to explain the buzzword "Inbox 2.0" he'd heard about. Here's the definition:

Inbox 2.0 == Using data in email archives to infer people's profiles, behaviors, social graph, and importance, and making this information visible in your email client.

Let's pick this definition apart:
  1. "Using data in your email archives": There are mountains of hidden data in your email archives, whether locally on your machine or on the server. Inbox 2.0 takes your gigabytes of past email, generates statistics, and applies machine learning and natural language processing techniques to find useful conclusions.

  2. "people's profiles": The information in your email paints an accurate picture of your contacts. You can extract their address, phone numbers, their job title, and interests.

  3. "behaviors": Your contacts' email stream allows Inbox 2.0 software to infer what time of day they're usually online, when it's best to send them email, and how soon to expect a reply.

  4. "social graph": It's easy to extract your social network and social graph by looking at who's Cc'ed on emails, who's mentioned, and how often they're included in conversations.

  5. "importance": More important contacts get more of their emails answered faster, and are mentioned in emails to other more often. Their social graph includes other important people.

  6. "and making this information visible in your email client": Users want this information as they're triaging and writing email, not as a standalone application. While the data can come from anywhere – local email archives or your trusty Exchange server - integration into the email client is key, whether it's a desktop client like Outlook, Entourage, Apple Mail, or Thunderbird, or a webmail client like Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, or Gmail.
The term Inbox 2.0 was originally defined in a New York Times article by Yahoo SVP Brad Garlinghouse, and has been discussed by Om Malik, Don Dodge, Deva Hazarika, and Kevin Delaney at the Wall Street Journal.


More posts on email:Also, academic email research is discussed in my thesis: Organizing Email. Happy emailing!


Deva Hazarika said...

Gabor, I feel like if we work together we are early enough to come up with a better umbrella name than Inbox 2.0. But we need to act before it takes hold. ARE YOU WITH ME?

Gabor said...

Deva - the only thing I'm not happy about is the 2.0 part. It evokes the bubbliness of Web 2.0.

Any suggestions?

Deva Hazarika said...

"It evokes the bubbliness of Web 2.0." Exactly. I've been using terms like next-generation messaging, but that's sort of lame too. I haven't come up with something I really like yet, but I feel like those of us actually focused on building these solutions should be able to come up with something much better than Inbox 2.0 to define the segment we're creating!

Waseem Sadiq said...

Hi Gabor,

I believe Inbox2.0 describes exactly what it should. In fact Inbox2.0 should combine exactly those things that made web2.0 popuplar (data + users). In fact at Tabdeelee we are so happy with this term that we named our product inbox2 ( Check it out, I think you'll find it to be quite interesting.