Edo the Reliable ("Amin")

Email is Tasks

In Email on June 12, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Email is often used as a to-do list; a fact most email platforms seem oblivious to. I can’t recall any major site taking advantage of this fact, but this week Facebook suggested to its users to “send yourself a reminder” about the upcoming Facebook Vanity URL rush. Strictly speaking, Facebook meant sending a Facebook message, not an email – but Facebook understands the value of not speaking strictly with users.

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A Google search for “send yourself an email brought up mainly future reminder services but no present-reminder feature on a major website. But here are two other signs that this generation-old usabily vacuum is closer to being resolved.

In May, I noticed Alibris.com‘s promo emails sometimes had subjects starting “NOTE TO SELF:”. Perhaps a literary-cutesy, or marketing-cutesy attempt to test the waters for a strange kind of subliminal spam – one where, instead of a Nigerian letter-writer pretending to be a legit company, it is a legit company sending you a note in your own handwriting, presumably pretending to be yesterday’s you – through a scanner darkly.

On the bright side of this trend, in April, GTD arrived to Gmail. GTD is is an action management method created by David Allen, and described in a book of the same name.  GTDInbox for Gmail is a Firefox add-on announcing that “Emails are just poorly formatted tasks or resources”. It aims to maintain an empty inbox, which is GTD’s nirvana.

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