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IBM Cambridge Research Center

  Technical Report: Redesigning Email for the 21st Century Workshop Position Paper

Redesigning Email for the 21st Century Workshop Position Paper

Technical Report #:02-17
Author(s): Steven L. Rohall
Category(s):Email, threads, visualization, summarization, chat


A Collaborative User Experience Technical Report: more about CUE...

Electronic mail has become the most widely used business productivity application. However, people increasingly feel frustrated by their email. They are overwhelmed by the volume, lose important items, and feel pressure to respond quickly. Though email usage has changed, our email clients largely have not. Over the past several years, our research group, in conjunction with the Lotus Software group within IBM, has been investigating how people use email and how we might design and build a better email system. We have developed novel visualizations of the documents within mail databases to ease understanding and navigation. We have prototyped systems that incorporate synchronous communication and the ability to annotate individual messages. We have also considered how the structure of information within email might be exploited to provide better automatic summarization. Throughout this work, I have come to believe that no single feature will solve the “email problem.” Email usage is as
individual as email users; everyone has their own, idiosyncratic way of dealing with electronic mail. While a new feature may benefit a large number of users, the most
effective email system may need to include a large number of such features. The interesting research question, then, is how can a large number of new features be incorporated in email systems in a way that helps, rather than hinders, users.

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