Inbox Love: A day-long download on email

It may have been all about email, but you could never have emailed the full impact of “Inbox Love” — nearly 10 hours of presentations, elbow-rubbing, demos, discussions and debates. The event took place at the Microsoft Conference Center in Mountain View, California, and was chock-full of insights about the medium we love to hate.

Jeff Bonforte, CEO of Xobni (that’s “Inbox” spelled backward), called email your “personal Wikipedia”—an incredible storage locker that knows you better than you know yourself. His company mines your email for contacts and typically find more than 5,000. Whether they’re candidates for Facebook friending is up to you.

Victoria Belotti, principal scientist at the Palo Alto Research Center, said email is the “Grand Central Station for knowledge work.” She says, like Twitter, email is like a river flowing underneath a bridge. When emails disappear and important items are forgotten, “this causes a huge amount of stress.” She also said email is not designed to do all we ask of it—and it’s a poor substitute for what it replaces.

Will the inbox die? “Stop it,” said Bonforte. “It should not only not die . . . it should get bigger.”

Belotti’s view: “Email is still going strong even with kids, but especially in the enterprise. Most people aren’t overloaded, but power users are drowning.” This presents several opportunities for entrepreneurs to consider: Constant multitasking, obligation management, managing content and critical information, “task vistas,” and application switching and window management.

Jonathan Spira, CEO of Basex and author of the forthcoming book “Overload,”disagreed with Belotti. “There are 79.7 million knowledge workers at a wide range of levels. All our research tells us that in their own world relative to what they expect, they’re overloaded.”

Knowledge workers lose 20-25 percent of their day to overload without even realizing it. Information overload also includes search—50 percent of which fail, said Spira. Basex estimates that all this costs the U.S. economy nearly $1 trillion per year.

Pierre Khawand, CEO of People-OnTheGo, said if you break down the knowledge worker’s day, he/she spends 3.27 hours on email and 1.18 hours on social media—leaving less than half the workday for focused work. His company just published a report on the impact of email and social media called “The New New Inbox.”

Inbox Love and hate mail (complete wrap of the day by Chris Nuttall at FT Tech Hub)

E-mail innovator pitches self-deleting e-mails (Rafe Needleman, CNET)

Watch the morning sessions


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Filed under Email management, Impacts on society, Information Overload Research Group, Personal productivity, Research

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