An Attention Management solution to email overload

Craig Roth has posted his view on how the (Enterprise) Attention Management lens can look at the technical side of email to help with the information overload issue.  E-mail Overload: No Cure, but Enterprise Attention Management Can Shed Some Light

Craig Roth view of using EAM for email overloadThe most popular “overload” topic in offices today is e-mail. But after all these years of incremental improvement to IBM Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange, surely there can’t be any low-hanging fruit left to pick to help people manage inbox overload. Or is there?

The Enterprise Attention Management Conceptual Architecture to the rescue!  Rather than relying on a set of personal pet peeves or specific annoyances that have happened in recent memory, a model such as the EAM conceptual architecture provides a systematic approach for analyzing the attentional characteristics of a system.

A number of Craig's suggestions fall in line with what I've thought and commented on before.  He also includes some interesting aspects associated with attention: making it easy to turn off notifications (I think they should be off by default); scheduling email deliveries (instead of "all the time"); more flexible / powerful rules... 

These are all technical solutions that it would be nice to have.  We still have to deal with the human side: Don't abuse the power of sending email.  The inbox is not meant to be a task list.

4 Comment(s)

AbigailG Author Profile Page said:

Some of these ideas look like they might be addressed by Google Wave. Of course, it doesn't really exist yet...

If I had more time, I might create a table with each of these elements in a list and what applications (or future applications, like Wave) cover these areas and how. Outlook can do many of the things listed, particularly in combination with Exchange Server within an enterprise. I assume much of this can be done with Lotus Notes - and would hope better from all the props Notes got in the early KM days. And Google Wave covers a number of these areas too. Even plain ole GMail has some coverage.

Craig Roth said:

I don't think I saw any of this in the online Wave demo, but after an hour it all starts to blur ... And as AbigailG said, it's hard to tell what it does now while it's still breeding in the lab somewhere.

To Jack's comment, it would indeed be great to get a table of how different email systems can do these things. I'd also like to know more than just whether it's possible (you can do almost anything with coding), but how easy: default, one-click, buried in menus/options, SMOP (simple matter of programming). I have an email out to my Notes contact to see how much of this they do - I'm guessing it's more than Outlook on the surface level (not buried in options or requiring APIs).

Jack Vinson Author Profile Page said:

I've set up a PBWiki with this table in it, starting with Outlook, Notes, Google, and "other." Craig, it would be great if you could dump the full text description of each element into the table. Anyone with a PBWiki account is free to update the table.

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