:: urbansheep (urbansheep) wrote,
:: urbansheep

[ L ] IBM Research: ReMail — Reinventing Email


ReMail — Reinventing Email

The Collaborative User Experience (CUE) team in IBM Research has spent nearly a decade studying email. Not only has email become one of the most pervasive and successful collaborative tools available, it has also become a key component of IBM's Lotus Software offerings. In many ways, email can be seen as a victim of its own success - users increasingly suffer from overload and interruptions as well as use email in a manner for which it was not intended.


Three themes that repeatedly arise are:

  • Pressure to Respond Quickly. People report feeling pressure to be more responsive to their email. Messages arrive continuously throughout the day, contributing to the sense of urgency to respond quickly.
  • Losing Track of Email and the increasing fear of doing so. High volumes of email cause important items to quickly move out of view. Users must hunt down their mail, often having to scroll to other parts of their mailbox. This problem is exacerbated as email arrives in a single, undifferentiated stream. The mailbox becomes an assortment of items requiring action, informational items, and items with no value to the user at all (e.g., spam).
  • Overwhelming Volumes of Mail. People are overwhelmed by the volume of new email they receive each day. They report spending increasing amounts of time simply managing their email. Email is an endless cycle of catching-up and falling behind. New messages arrive regardless of the activity the recipient is engaged in, causing a backup in the user's mailbox. To prevent this backup and stay on top of action items, people have developed the habit of checking their email frequently, adding to the overall disruption email can bring.


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