Time to revolutionise the email

Illustration: BT/Ayi Hermala

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I WAS one of those who was so excited when email first became mainstream over a decade ago. But after the numerous chain mails and spams accumulating in my inbox, as well as the arrival of the social network age, email has become more of a chore.

Today I use Facebook and various instant messenger applications to directly communicate with my contacts.

Of course, like everyone else, I still use email, but that's mainly for work. My personal gmail account is nothing more than an authentication tool to other web services.

I don't like clutter, and I hate being confined in one. This is why I've long abandoned Microsoft Word in favour of the simpler writing app such as WriteRoom or Bean for the mac as my primary writing tool.

The same goes with email. While I still fire up Microsoft Exchange on my work computer to access my work email day in and day out, processing the glut of email in my inbox is a pain.

And is it just me, or is reading and replying tweets and Facebook posts more fun and pleasing on the eyes than looking at an email inbox?

For my personal email, I use Sparrow (for Mac) as my email client. Sparrow retrieves my personal mail from my gmail inbox, a switch I've made recently from the powerful Mozilla Thunderbird. It looks exactly like a twitter client on my desktop, and it's exactly how I like it.

See, it's not about how much features it has (which it doesn't), but how less featured it is. It doesn't look and feel like a real email application, but that's the whole point. I don't need all that power, and I certainly don't want to feel like I am using a real email application. I just want to read and reply to emails, and get on with life.

In fact, Sparrow has made me fall in love with email all over again. Sure, the official Mail app by Apple, the new Microsoft Outlook 2010, and even the gmail website have made their best attempts to simplify the user's email experience, but nothing beats the simplicity and zen of Sparrow.

But simplicity alone is not enough. Email is in dire need of a redesign from the ground up, and needs to adapt with the way we all use the internet today.

The Internet is getting smarter over the years. Sites like Youtube and Amazon are able to determine your preferences and tastes, and would recommend information based on what it thinks you would want to see.

Social networking sites and services have also evolved into a powerful tool for communication, collaboration and sharing. So why can't we harness all these technologies into a new and revolutionary email?

Its about time some bright-minded folks step up to challenge the status quo of inefficient and uninspired email software we are using today.

The Brunei Times

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