Peter Yared wrote an interesting post over on TechCrunch “Email Is Now Just Another Stream”, which suggested the realistic, but still slightly provocative outcome to our current ~50 hours of pain applied to reading and answering email every month; An inbox which holds only algorithmically vetted emails using a conceptual model (mail rank) similar to how Facebook selects stories for your newsfeed (edge rank).
I personally find it inevitable that intelligent agents will mine our inbox for tasks to solve or mails to show in the not too distant future. That said, we should expect a scenario where those first artificial intelligent agents are assisted by humans – very much in the same way that Facebook and their edge rank is acceptably imperfect and allow for human intervention (“Show in Newsfeed”). The interesting question is if one can somewhat outsource those initial human tasks as well.
You can find the two paragraphs, from Peter’s article, which speak to this view below (link is mine):
“Only a couple of years ago, pundits were predicting an end to email. But instead of fading away, there’s been ever-increasing email volume and usage. Rather than being replaced by Facebook and Twitter streams, email is actually becoming a stream itself. Mail systems are evolving to match the new volume of email, and users will increasingly see only algorithmically vetted emails. Some other emails may be shown below the vetted email, and the rest will flow away into temporal oblivion, just like uninteresting social posts from a few hours ago.”
“For each type of volume sender, a new balance will have to be found between sending numerous emails and still achieving desired ‘open rates’ and ‘clickthroughs’ — mechanisms by which an email provider like Google can detect whether or not the email is of interest to a user. Much like how ‘edge rank’ increases for Facebook posts when the people like, share or comment on it, ‘mail rank’ will be an increasingly important benchmark for email marketers to measure their effectiveness.”
* According to Marketing Land, Facebook stopped referring to its feed prioritisation algorithm as edge rank internally – so the term may be considered obsolete now – other than as a useful shorthand for “Facebook’s feed prioritisation algorithm”.