Friday Dec 14, 2007

A way to stop Email Cc abuse?

Do you frequently add others to the Cc: distribution?

Carbon copying (Cc for short) in Email is undoubtedly one of the most useful features. Alice sends Bob and Charlie an Email, then Bob invites Dave to the discussion by adding him in the Cc: field.

[Growing Inboxes]

As it happens, however, Cc is also one of the most abused features. WSJ has an article titled Email's Friendly Fire which says:

Email overload is now considered a much bigger workplace problem than traditional email spam. Inboxes are bulging today partly because of what some are calling "colleague spam—that is, too many people are indiscriminately hitting the "reply to all" button or copying too many people on trivial messages, like inviting 100 colleagues to partake of brownies in the kitchen."

If you're Bob, the person who adds others, Cc is great. But if you're Dave, the person who is being added, sometimes you may wonder why you're on the distribution at all and silently curse Bob for contributing to the "colleague spam" you receive in your INBOX.

One difference between Facebookmail and Email I've noticed is that in Facebook, once the sender defines the distribution scope, it becomes fixed and cannot be expanded or shrunk. In other words, Alice, Bob or Charlie may not invite Dave into the discussion, nor could Bob respond in private to Alice or Charlie without starting a new thread. The upside is that whatever is said between Alice, Bob and Charlie remains private to them, but the downside is that others cannot chime in or add value.

In contrast, Facebook event scheduling system allows participants to invite more friends as long as the event is open. A bigger party is always a better party, I suppose. :)

Can we think of a way to prevent Cc abuse yet maintain the flexibility of it at the same time?

Wednesday Nov 14, 2007

Yahoo and Google to turn Email into a social network

One of the clever things that Facebook does is how it gives users an option to initialize their social graphs from their address book data on Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail and Gmail to see which of their friends are already on Facebook. I didn't bite, in fear of giving my credentials to Facebook (even though they promise to discard them after data is pulled), but a thought struck: isn't social graph basically a more fashionable way of saying address book 2.0?

Then yesterday I read this blog on NYTimes that Yahoo! is working to turn existing user profiles and address books into a social network and they're calling it INBOX 2.0. Google is allegedly doing something similar. Makes sense.

I have been thinking for years that address book should be consulted during spam detection to minimize false positives, and the only systems which have your address book in their possession and also handle your Email are webmail providers. Extending it to create social graphs seems like the logical next step.

Thursday Nov 08, 2007

Traffic to social networks surpasses webmail in the UK

According to Hitwise, UK internet users visited Facebook, Bebo and MySpace more times last month than they visited Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail and other webmail services:

This confirms that social networks are starting to eat into the web-based email providers’ dominance of the internet messaging market.

Does it? While traffic to social networking sites grows steadily, visits to webmail sites as shown above do not decline correspondingly for most part of the chart. Also, the graph only counts hits, not time spent on the sites or number of messages generated (not to mention non-webmail Email traffic).

Until the walls come down between social networks, I can't see myself giving up Email as the primary method of staying in touch with friends and family.

Source: Hitwise - Social networks overtake webmail

Tuesday Oct 09, 2007

Social networking across networks

After years of being on Friendster and LinkedIn, I finally got on Facebook. Within two weeks, I was able to reconnect with many old friends. I was really impressed, not only by the size of Facebook's network (30,000,000+ active users) but also with the rate at which it is growing. Most people that I reconnected with, have only become Facebook users in the last month or so.

The biggest problem with Facebook (or Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace, for that matter) that I see is that it's a closed network. Facebook allows third party developers to build applications on its platform but it's still closed in that you have to first become a Facebook user in order to connect with other Facebook users.

As a consumer, I'd rather not have to create and maintain a profile on multiple social networks. Why can't I add an Orkut user to my Facebook circle of friends? Or transfer my list of buddies from one network to another?

In contrast, from a single Email account, I can send and receive Email to and from any domain. I don't need to sign up with Gmail to keep in touch with my Gmail-using friends and family. Despite being a 25-year old technology, Email is still the only standardized open form of people networking.


I currently live in San Francisco Bay Area. For the past seven years, I have been designing and building messaging solutions for Sun.


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