Email Experiments

I’d like to start collecting information about cool email experiments. To jumpstart the discussion, here are a few of my favorites:

What other projects should I know about?

[UPDATE: Please don’t just suggest mail clients — My mention of GNUmail sent people astray, as I forgot to mention that it was notable because it implemented the arc-threading view. I’m not interested in an inventory of wholesale mail clients — only an inventory of specific features, or even better yet, not-yet-feature-but-ideas which show innovation and promise]


  1. Also, talking of gmail, I don’t know if it still counts as a cool experiment when basically everyone is using it, but the threading “conversation” model used in Gmail is lifechangingly brilliant. I want it for every forum/discussion/mailing list I encounter on the web.


  2. Check out Bloomba, which Raymie Stata and company sold to Yahoo! around the same time Y! acquired Oddpost. The key idea was a scalable db that allowed everything to be a query (no folders). Paper:

    Bloomba also had what I think is good thinking about UI and interaction modes for email, although I never used it so can’t testify personally. Spring cleaning mode, or what I would like: a “Mount Vernon” cleaning mode (George Washington’s house is too big to clean in one night between public tours, so the cleaning crew just works from room to room over the course of many days; it looks spotless; they know where they left off, unlike me when I’m trying to clean my Inbox!).



  3. It wasn’t just the search of zoe that was interesting. It has been forever since I used it, so I don’t remember everything, but it had a lot of interesting ideas.

    It had a calendar view- you could use that to view your email by date. I seem to recall that it did something similarly interesting with the addressbook- much like how gmail allows you to easily see all your emails from a person from within the addressbook. In a feature that never was well polished, it associated blogs with email addresses, so that blog entries from a person showed up very similarly to emails from them. Gmail doesn’t do this with blogs, but it does with IMs in some circumstances, which is great.


  4. I don’t know of any interesting email experiments, because I don’t care about email experiments. Thunderbird (well, SeaMonkey mail for me, but same difference) does 99% of what I’d want in an email client. I just wish it did it a bit _better_.
    Search through multiple accounts. Defined filters and junk-mail filters not conflicting. Per-folder identities so you never reply with the wrong email alias again. The ability to make certain (non-junk) email not trigger notification (I don’t need to see that popup every ten minutes just because one mailinglist is being particularly active, but I _do_ need to see it when I get a work email). More options for templates to help create a more automated email workflow. Killfiles for usenet. (Finally getting there with the ability to kill subbranches of a thread.) Better searching of usenet. (Also getting close.)
    The kind of things where mailnews is _almost_ there, but doesn’t quite manage to rise above the level of mediocreness. That’s where I wish attention would be focused on. It might not be all that exciting, but it would start turning real world users into actual _fans_ of the application.


  5. – Virtual folders (e.g. Mulberry’s ‘cabinets’), letting me create a folder hierarchies organized around specific needs rather than how the folders are laid out on disk.

    – Quick archival (e.g. GMail’s ‘archive’ button, but with some more intelligence behind it)


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