A great documentary from my colleague Luis Suarez, fearlessly dumping his e-mail inbox and converting to living social. He makes the point that we will see e-mail gradually transition from a content repository to again being a messaging and notification system. I’d venture that it will evolve even further. E-mail’s grip on my work life stems from the fact that I am held accountable for reading and responding to communications there, whereas in the social tools, engagement has so far been driven primarily by where I expect to find value, rather than by who might be requesting an action or a response from me. In my crystal ball, I see a convergence of the request driven and value driven patterns, or push and pull if you wish, in the social tools. We’re building Activity Streams and the like, which will blend both forms, even if we also build filters to offer different views of the Stream.
The challenge is to not re-invent e-mail in a way that carries the same burdens we deal with today; overload and parsing through unnecessary (to me) content. Instead, we need to deliver a social mail and collaboration experience that lets us focus on creating the most value. And – to position myself in that vision – we need to do so with a compelling level of quality, reliability and ease of use.