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Colin and Richard have both recently commented on email, so here’s my 2p

The problem with email is that it equates to an electronic pile of paper, cluttered, un-ordered, random and messy. It’s easy to miss something key, even nowadays spam uses the importance flag.

The advantage with RSS isn’t so much the technology but how it is applied, with an RSS feed it is categorised by you in your aggregator from the very beginning.

Yes it is possible to create a rule that places emails into certain folders, but what if the source of an email decides to comment on another subject? Is that email in the right category and therefore the right folder? Does RSS get around this?

I don’t believe there is a definitive solution but as a suggestion I believe that if posts or emails were categorised at source then this could go some way to elevating the current mess. Of course the category suggestion would only be a guide for the recipient which the recipient could either take or leave.

Channel 9 already does this with the ‘Tag’ system and the simple inclusion of the tag in its RSS XML. Unfortunately, I haven’t found an aggregator that supports it yet.

This is a good idea, but doesn’t go far enough as it doesn’t support a hierarchical system favouring instead to group categories together.

A hierarchical system however would add benefit as category groups would not be as generalised reducing the likelihood further of turning a large mess into equally unorganised smaller ones.

For instance,

\Company A\Invoices

\Company B\Purchases Orders

\Support\Microsoft Office\2003\Word\VBA\CreateObject

In RSS this could look like,

<category>Company A



<\category>Company B

            <category>Purchase Orders<\category>



            <category>Microsoft Office










Nice and easy to code, perhaps increasing the chance of producing a circular reference, but it’s a starter for ten.

What is obvious that something needs to be done as we are all drowning in uncollated information, which reduces our effectiveness to respond that is bound to have a knock on effect to our relationships.

Anyway, let me know what you think?

Posted on Monday, February 27, 2006 8:25 AM Main | Back to top

Comments on this post: The Inbox is the electronic equivalent of a messy pile of paper

# re: The Inbox is the electronic equivalent of a messy pile of paper
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Is the problem here that we are trying to organise the unorganisable? I think it's fair to say that we all like to try to organise email into categories and file it away in the appropriate pidgeon hole, yet email is often more like a converstation which rambles from one topic to the next, or like a bad O-Level answer where everything gets written down in the hope that some of it sticks. It's this sort of rambling that contributes to email being ineffective as a means of communication.
IMHO to make real progress in corporate communications I think that we need to find appropriate communication tools for effective communication and maybe even going as far as educating people in how to use them - technicians included. Has anyone ever been taught to use email? Maybe that explains why we have problems today. Companies and managers must demonstrate and encourage effective communication - that might be using IM, it might be email, and now I'm going to be radical, it might involve people getting off their backsides and going and talking to someone. After you've read this, go and see someone, offer them a compliment, buy them a coffee and discuss those issues that have been stuck in the too difficult basket - you know they're the ones in the emails that are still unread. You never know things might just get easier, and your orgaisation might just get better at what it does.
Left by Colin on Feb 27, 2006 7:50 PM

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