Sunday, March 23, 2008

Arrington on Email Overload

Michael Arrington has a post about email overload on TechCrunch today. A lot of people feel overwhelmed with email: Too many emails, from too many sources, coming in at a faster pace than what you can deal with.

I stumbled on this problem in 2004, while working on Gmail. It is a fascinating space, in which we're stuck in a dilemma of email clients that haven't changed in 15 years and weren't designed to do what they're dealing with today. On the other hand, there is an abundance of academic work trying to address the problem: Just read "How Researchers are Reinventing the Email Client" or my thesis on organizing email.

Even with Xobni, we're only scratching the just the surface of this problem, and there is still so much opportunity out there to improve the email experience for users. It's a huge market with big, established players, ripe for a revolution. Thanks, Arrington, for keeping this on everyone's minds.

Update: An interesting comment from the man himself (#74): "I didn’t quite write this post the way I intended to. There are lots of startups addressing the email problem, one of my favorites is Xobni. I’m thinking of something significantly more revolutionary than fixing email. Like a new way of communicating entirely."


Chalan Aras said...

One of the major overloads that arise from e-mail is the tasks, follow-ups etc that arise. Outlook has a rudimentary follow-up mechanism on the e-mails but one that needs to be manually set and tracked. The task tracking system in particular is abysmal since it sits alone, away from the calendar. Did you every try putting your to do list on your calendar for things that have deadlines far away? if xobni can find a better way to keep projects with deadlines and priorities, then it can increase productivity around the world.

The closest thing I saw to this was a software product from the Franklin organizer folks. This was a software add-in to outlook that used the 7-habits principles. It still was not easy to view and only supported a limited font set, no ability to highlight etc.

Attila Csordas said...

Have you ever thought of handling the incoming email hierarchy similarly to the sophisticated Slashdot comment system: emails visible depending on their relevancy, trees et cetera? After all, email are comments and comments of comments.