Tuesday Jun 05, 2007

When will email be obsolete?

I asked my thirteen year old son why he wasn't wearing a watch. His response was "I can get the time and date from my phone". This made me feel a bit like a dinosaur

I feel even more like a dinosaur when I use email as the framework for my day. I use it to communicate with peers, ask questions, and even to send notes to myself. It's a really awkward as it is not at all convenient to compose, archive, or search email - or integrate it with my calendar or phone.

We do have an email archive and search mechanism that works quite well, but it has no notion of access control. As most of my more important email isn't suitable for company wide consumption, the only place it is archived is in my mailfolders.

I was looking through my long email queue, and there is very little there that couldn't be handled more effectively by different means. Community discussions are better held in forums. Conversations with my manager or my group should be tagged and stored for only us to refer back to.

Several years ago our group used a product called Intraspect. (now Vignette Collaboration) This product is chock full of good ideas. It has excellent access control, email messages are first class citizens, strong tagging support, discussions, and a robust content repository. The product is now used company wide, but has a few notable problems that are inhibiting further success. The worst gotcha is that it doesn't scale well. It was a victim of it's own popularity. The second issue is that it doesn't communicate easily with other applications. It's difficult to impossible to index the content with an outside search engine. Writing widgets, or jython programs, is an awkward process that usually requires consulting.
 
Will email disappear as the social internet matures? From my dinosauric perspective it be nice if email were tightly integrated with a social network that supports tagging, search, access control, friends of friends, and content objects. (widgets, live feeds, etc.)

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mbriggs

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