Sometimes email seems like communication overload….
Last week was a quiet week for me, yet I still got over 500 real emails from real people and companies.
Certainly if I got this much post every week I’d physically struggle to deal with opening it all, let alone dealing with it and responding.
Actually the vast majority of my email isn’t stuff I need to do anything with – it’s “rich awareness information” – like Vistaprint reminding me they’ve got printed t-shirts sale on, ebookers telling they’ve got a new deal on flights to Panama or its my friends arranging and discussing a party that I’m looking forward to. It’s pretty much the same category as knowing someone else is online (“awareness”) but richer in detail.
The stuff I have to deal with is the “action information” – my domain name needs renewing, one of my applications has a bug that needs fixing or my mum reminding me to book the Christmas holiday…
Web 2 takes a crack at solving this information by putting the “rich awareness information” in a separate place from “action information.” Ideally we pass through the awareness information on our daily journey to get to the action information.
My facebook home page has an awareness news feed so I can see what my friends are up to, my Google desktop has feeds of various news channels. I pass by both every day on my way to email – still the killer application of webs 1 and 2.
This separation works really well but only if the awareness summary page is seen every day, on the way to something else – otherwise it fails – a dedicated RSS news feed reader where you go in especially to “check the news” each day is flawed for this reason.
The techology itself also gets smart – it only shows me what it thinks I am likely to be interested in kept aware about – Facebook news feed is the best example so far – first it makes a stab at putting the right news up then it lets me tweak it to say which I am most interested in – i.e. “give me more photos from my family and less information from that dull fellow Smith…” and so on.
This “rich awareness information” is a new communication tool – it’s not email, it’s not the web – it’s something else. The businesses that use it best can be the Web 2 winners.