Jul 28 2011
I think all of us have endured the experience of opening their inbox to find it chalk full of email. Depending on who they’re from this can be exciting, or a whole lot of work. When you’re at the office it usually amounts to a series of correspondence that is mildly relevant to your job. These take hours to sift through and detract from our productivity. I used to have a manager who would habitually check his Blackberry because he just knew there was an email there. It was kind of like turret’s but with email. For that job he was typically correct as the email load was particularly weighty. Email can be a real time killer.
No one seems to have made a lot of headway in making it easier to check one’s email. For the most part it comes down to becoming an expert skimmer and staying consistent with it. There’s nothing like having hundreds of emails to look through after returning from vacation. It can almost ruin the trip depending on how full your inbox is. It’s time for a change.
That change comes to us as Shortmail. Their answer to the email problem is 500 characters. Similar to the Twitter 140 character limitation Shortmail is a fully functional messaging system that forces its users to keep their messages to just 500 characters. That way they’re short and to the point.
To sign up for Shortmail you need a Twitter account. This makes it so you don’t need to register for yet another username/password combination. It uses your Twitter screen name for your Shortmail email address, thus ensuring they’re both unique and have the same brand identity. Some users balked initially at using their precious Twitter accounts to register. They obviously haven’t read our detailed synopsis on why Twitter is no longer useful or relevant. In short, go ahead and use your Twitter account- nobody reads tweets anyway.
But people do read email and they always will. They just need them to be a little more concise and to the point. The character limitation provides the following benefits. It makes the sender think through what they’re writing prior to sending it. Their spam filters will stop many of the lengthy advertisements that otherwise would find their way to your inbox. Also, emails will take a more structured format. There are no attachments, HTML characters- nothing. Just solid communication. Further, it allows messages to be presented in a conversational format. Since messages are short they can eliminate headers, quoted text, and other entries that take up space in conventional emails. It’s easier to sift through many emails this way on top of being able to read each one individually.
Oftentimes if I find myself writing a long email I realize it’s time to pick up the phone and give them a call. Any time you have more than a few paragraphs it’s a sign that email isn’t the best forum anyway. Shortmail makes that judgment call easy by placing an upper limit on how long each email can be. It’s a creative attempt at solving a problem that plagues email users around the world. And it just makes reading email easier.