Sunday, April 20, 2008

E-mail needs to get Socialized

There have been several blog posts over the last few months about how hard it is to keep track of, read and reply to all the e-mail that we get bombarded with. I don't personally have a big problem with that but folks like Fred Wilson and Mike Arrington, who have to field 1,000+ emails a day, are certainly going to find it hard to maintain a decent response rate.

So in reply to a post Fred made today on the topic, here's what I think needs to be built:

There's a big opportunity here if someone could do it "right"...not to jump on the "social graph" bandwagon, but what if we could use our social graphs to help prioritize email. For instance, if someone created an email client (better yet, an add-in for existing clients) that would give you a way to sort mail based on how "connected" you are to a person. Could be a point based system and it would use criteria like:

1. Email history (e.g. have you corresponded with this person before, how long ago, how many times, etc.)

2. Connect to your Facebook or LinkedIn profile and assign points by how well connected the person is to you (degrees of separation + number of mutual connections)

3. See how engaged the person has been with your digital presence (have they commented on your blog posts - could pull the data from disqus - or your flickr photos, or sent you a tweet on twitter, etc.)

I'm sure there are some other relevant data points here but the main idea is that getting through 1000 emails a day is always going to be tough no matter what. But there are some emails that really can wait and there are some emails that deserve a quicker read and reply. How we organize those emails is what will ultimately determine which ones will get read and replied to quicker.

Anybody have any thoughts on this or know of an add-in that does it already? Might actually be fun to go out and just build it if it doesn't exist.

Any ideas?

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