Can Email Be Saved?

from the it-ain't-an-easy-operation dept

For all the talk about spam, that’s not email’s only problem. We wrote last month about Larry Lessig’s legitimate email problem, where he simply couldn’t get around to replying to all the legitimate emails he was receiving, and that’s where this Salon piece about the non-spam problems of email begins. While the article starts off there, it also takes a fairly in-depth look at how people use email (so many different ways) and how it’s about time that we changed our whole thinking on email. It explains why, despite the enthusiasm from folks on the Outlook and Eudora teams, email “folders” aren’t a particularly useful solution for prioritizing messages. Most people tend to use their in-box as a task-list, and any kind of sorting and filtering simply moves things out of sight — and out of mind. Instead, we should have email programs that adapt to the user and automatically prioritize messages. If they’re from someone we know, they should move to the top (or, if you’re set up that way, the bottom) of the list. The article suggests that things like Bloomba and Gmail are leading this new wave of thinking by focusing on search (which also helps explain Microsoft’s latest acquisition) and adding things like “conversations.” Still, it looks like we’re a long way from email that really works with us rather than against us. Unfortunately, for some, the way email is right now is already overwhelming.

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Comments on “Can Email Be Saved?”

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Jeff Rasmussen says:

Virtual Folders

Mozilla’s Thunderbird, Evolution, and some other email programs have “virtual folders” which, after you create a search rule, will show email that matches the search.

For example, you can create a folder for attachments that will show all attachments when you click on it. You can have another virtual folder that shows work information which is based off of the from address. The best part of virtual folders it that the same email can show up in multiple folders without any effort. An email can have both an attachment and from a co-worker. That email will be visible in both virtual folders.

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