Zero Inbox Notes

I recently read a post by Fred Wilson about email pain.  The pain being that there are too many emails to read them all and respond if appropriate. There are a lot of good comments on solutions.  One of my favorites by akharris compares the problem to Robert Moses’ highway building schemes -> we need a whole new infrastructure, which takes massive investment, i.e. not gonna happen.  Below are some of the solutions, modified in some cases. Maybe the answer is a combination of these things?


- Integrate with Twitter and Facebook and leverage your social graph to filter emails.  Essentially, anyone you follow or are friends with would be white listed.  You could add other emails via manual white list.  You could even add multiple twitter accounts or facebook groups that would translate into email buckets: one for work, friends, etc.

- Very simple tagging field - basically, a free form folder system where you enter tags that can be searched.  Tags could be according to a) time to revisit - ‘next week’, ‘tomorrow’; b) priority - ‘high’, ‘medium’, ‘low’; c) type of relationship - ‘friend’, ‘work’.  Idea here is reduce friction - setting up folders and moving emails is too much friction also you can only move an email to one folder but you can add multiple tags.

- For emails that are not on white list, use a text parser that searches for certain text and categorizes things.  For example: A VC receives pitches from entrepreneurs all the time.  What words or phrases are common to those types of emails?  Pitch, presentation, idea, etc.  Maybe even broadcast appropriate subject headers to different categories of people.  For example, “if you are pitching me please put ‘Start-up Pitch and Company Name’ in header…otherwise I won’t see it”.  Also, you could have auto parsing of attachments, .ppt files are stored somewhere that can be reviewed later.

- Crowd sourcing.  Only works for folks with a large following but email is ranked up based on the value of that email by a crowd of people.  Similar to Hacker News (maybe leverage HN or other communities?). This might be useful for those “Start-up Pitch” emails.

- Algorithm that learns what is important to you by your activity in your inbox.  I guess this is what gmail priority inbox is supposed to do but doesn’t work very well for me.

- Incorporate auto replies that tells sender if they don’t make it through the various filters above, they probably won’t get access to the person through this channel. Chris Sacca example.


Feel free to add some other ideas here or on www.avc.com.

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