Monday, February 13, 2006

you've-got-mail dept.

What a lame title, but anyway, here goes...

Email clients are hitting their limits of scalability.

Now, I get almost a couple hundred small emails everyday, and keeping track of them is a nightmare.

Email traffic characteristics have fundamentally changed since I started working. Now they are almost instant messages, in form, mode of address, size and content. Most people seem to treat them as instant messages with more metadata tags and end-to-end archival built into the fabric.

I recently listened to the CEO of the company I work for mentioning that e-mail is a store and forward protocol, like physical mail, and that is the way he handles his email : read it once in the morning, once at lunch, and once in the evening, and don't look at it in between.

However, with disk, memory, processor and network bandwidth being what they are today, email is more like an instantaneous delivery system. And senders invariably expect recipients to respond instantaneously with at least an acknowledgement.

All of which basically makes my poor email client unable to cope. Now I have MacOS Tiger, so with Spotlight, my life is that much easier, but it only highlights how critical Desktop Search will be as an application in the next few years.

The trouble with mail clients is that they are still stuck in the 2-d, tabular, database world, when they really need to be data mining applications. Filters and Saved Searches are just stored procedures, in the end, and a highly watered down from at that. What I really need is a multi-dimensional, heuristic tool for analysing my mail, and presenting it to me so that I don't miss anything critical.

I don't actually mind seeing a bit of spam here and there, as long as I don't drop critical emails.

I think it would be a great idea to build a next generation communication tool that does this, combining e-mail, instant messaging and voice. Gmail is ofcourse, the best bet, and Google is surely on the right track by integrating Gtalk with it, but I have privacy concerns with Gmail.

Actually, frankly, Google is beginning to scare me. It is beginning to resemble too closely, the funny little guy you introduce to your friends, who quickly usurps centrestage, and makes your world suddenly unpredictable, and somewhat dependent on his whim. You wonder, "Have I created a saint or a sociopath?".


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