Break the Box

Om has written an interesting blurb on email. Email inherits many of the targeting and noise problems inherent in physical mail, only the problem is much worse because the cost of electronic postage is dramatically cheaper.

Folks have been working on aspects of this for a long time. Goodmail is doing a few interesting things in certification. Boxbe is taking the time-honored approach of trying legitimize your inbox as a marketing channel. Others are making a run at validation, electronic postage et al.Google has tried to solve part of the problem with search (presumably Yahoo will through its Bloomba acquisition).

There is no doubt that authentication, categorization, search and relative prioritization are important in email.

Email may need improvements in technology, but it is broken as a consumer product (perhaps it’s a victim of its own moniker). The physical mailbox doesn’t scale. The mailbox metaphor in email doesn’t either. It’s a monolith.

For most people (at least people I know), I would venture to say that email is a firehose of too many kinds of information from too many kinds of sources and relationships. I just logged into a Yahoo account that I don’t even use that often and I have 12,000 unread messages and 1200 messages marked as spam (assuming it takes me 3 seconds to scan, open, and delete an email, I’d spend 10 hours clearing out my inbox). The solution is NOT to automatically push all of these messages into different folders, nor is it to just let me search for what might be important. The solution is build suitable channels for respective kinds of messages and create software that  best handles the channels.

Meebo, Gizmo, Meetro, 37Signals,and the like  are doing a great job innovating in messaging and collaboration. Xobni is doing some clever stuff. I have yet to see any radical recasting of email.

As I write this I’m down to 11,999 unread messages. Wish me luck.

Happy 4th

In the last few days, the poets have surfaced in an unexpected way in the blogosphere. Fred Wilson quotes Whitman, and Fake Steve (FSJ) riffs on Shelley.

If you live in the US, have a happy holiday.

If you don’t live in the US, imagine everyone you know in the US with a beer bottle in one (or both) hand(s) in reasonable proximity to a smoking grill. It might be a good time to send them an email assuming that if you don’t receive a reply within a few hours, you’ll conclude something that enriches you at their expense.


First impressions, in no particular order:

  1. The device and OS are great.
  2. The network is not great(no surprise there).
  3. It pairs seamlessly with the Prius hands free system.
  4. It lacks MMS.
  5. The SIM is removable with a paper clip.
  6. It doesn’t seem to recognize and properly configure GAFYD accounts (at least it did not work with mine).
  7. Battery life is as claimed- great.
  8. Irony: the GSM radio interferes with my computer’s sound system. If the rebuttal to this is a suggestion that consumers need to understand RF shielding, it’s a miss (to be fair it’s an age-old issue).
  9. It represents a huge breakthrough, not in technology but in product. Industry pundits will rightfully suggest that a lot of the technologies in the iPhone have been around for a while. This is true, but Apple has artfully combined them, in conjunction with their own IP, to create something that will have a much more interesting legacy that a Wikipedia article.  I recommend that everyone (who reads this blog) spend some time playing with an iPhone.


I walked into my local Cingular/ATT store and bought an iPhone this morning. They had plenty of inventory. I’ll post some observations soon.

The Jet

Cirrus finally announced The JET. To quote Alan Klapmeier, the CEO of Cirrus "Three words: My Personal Jet."

Beautiful indeed. The VLJ industry is one of the most exciting areas of innovation right now. Eclipse and Diamond are also doing some interesting things.

As you may note from the sidebar, I’m reading Free Flight by James Fallows. Great read.

Personal jets and reinventing air travel may almost be as important as the iPhone. You heard it here first.

Worlds Collide

It’s always fascinating to me when accomplished and seemingly collected folks lose it in the face of market realities. At least "The Dean Scream" could have been attributable to a microphone. Via Search engine land and The Register , MacMillan executive Richard Charkin details in his blog how he and a colleague took some laptops from Google’s booth at Book Expo America, waited nearby for an hour until Google folks figured out the laptops had been taken, and, when asked, returned them. Why? To make a point about Google Book Search and intellectual property.

The is from the CEO of MacMillan. Never mind the bizarre nature of the "prank" and that it doesn’t really parallel the IP issues. The guy and a colleague WAITED AN HOUR. Was he tittering uncontrollably while hiding behind a booth wall clutching the laptops against his blazer and shorts? Perhaps they made a fortress behind the modesty panel of a nearby table?

File under "misfire."

Oh, I thought it was “carbon fiber” footprint……

Charlie touches upon the situation leading to the renaming of my blog here. The Prius has become a badge of good intent for some who would otherwise not suffer inconvenience for the sake of the environment. It’s also part of a more serious series of life changes for many of us.

Lest we forget, for some it’s a car that gets essentially the same mileage as an ’86 Honda CRX. For others it’s a way to buy into the carpool lane. I’ll take the intent.