Most of us have been overwhelmed by email at work. Even though the advent of the smart phone has made it easier to keep up, it's been pointed out that the digital leash this provides is of questionable value.
When you really think about it, the contrast of traditional Outlook Exchange and Gmail provides a pretty good backdrop for what's possible. Outlook is clunky, hard to personalize and not very flexible, but it wins a lot of users because it's the defacto choice for the enterprise. Gmail, on the other hand, has become the defacto choice for everyone else who doesn't have an email choice forced on them by the company.
Gmail features like enhanced search and tagging provide flexibility Outlook can't match. A recent product annoucement for Google News got me thinking about what else is possible with email. More from TechCrunch on advanced tagging:
"Today Google added a new “fact-check” tag to its popular Google News service. The site aggregates popular timely news from multiple sources and has traditionally grouped them with tags like “opinion,” “local source” and “highly cited.” Now readers can see highlighted fact-checks right next to trending stories.
The company cites the growing prominence of fact-checking sites as one of the reasons for creating the tag. Content creators will be able to add the new fact-check tag to posts themselves using a finite set of pre-defined source labels.
ClaimReview from Schema.org will be used to compile and organize stories offering factual background. The Schema community builds markups for structured data on the internet. The group is sponsored by Google but also has support from Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex."
The fact that tags are in play everywhere got me thinking. Why can't email be smarter related to the type of email that's flowing into our work inbox hundreds of times per week? Gmail already has transcended what's possible in Outlook by sorting emails into tags that include "primary/social/promotions" and delivering those types of emails into separate inboxes.
What would help us for work-related to emails? I'm thinking tags that would separate our non-junk emails into three primary groups:
--Facts - Similar in some aspects to the Google News feature, this would use smart technology to determine an email is an attempt to educate with facts of some type with limited opinion added to it. We all get emails that are fact-based and designed to be consumed when we have time. This would be the tag for those data dumps.
--Opinions - This email tag would tell us that an email contains primarily opinion about something in the workplace. There might be facts in the background, but this email type would tell us that someone or a group is providing their opinion about a topic. Let's face it, these are the most interesting to us.
--Danger - The most valuable of all my proposed tags, I'd love to see smart technology sift through the emails and tag the ones that cross a danger threshold, telling me I really need to consider the way I respond. This would sniff out email chains related to my work, a boss or skip level exec who's emotional about something in my wheelhouse, or people I've responded to a in less than optimal way in the past.
It's probably time that email becomes smart and helps us figure out what to prioritize and when more caution/rigor is necessary.
What did I miss? A "hot take" tag? A "crazy" tag? You tell me.