Leading with Why

Random Thought: Why does email have to be static?

I had a thought today while browsing through my email. I asked myself why my email has to remain static?

While I was reading through my FastCompany email newsletter I took notice of a section at the top called “Today’s Top Story”. I’m a little behind on my reading, so, when I saw the headline in this section I new that it was actually the top story from a few days ago. It was no longer today’s top story.

A spark fired off in some part of my brain and I asked, “Why is that section old?” The standard answer popped in at first: “Duh, it’s an old email.” But then another spark flew and I took a few steps back…

I use gmail. Gmail is essentially a website that creates a bunch of little mini pages based on the information and function allowed by other people’s email accounts. These packets of information are translated, through a bunch of mechanisms that I will never understand, and the translation is spit out as an email in my email account. But then I asked myself, “Why can’t that particular section be live?” In other words, “Why does email have to be static content?”

I started to consider the various tools I use on a daily basis. My Facebook page receives live content while I’m logged in on a minute-by-minute basis. I can chat with someone live with gchat. My Feedly is a collection of several different news feeds from around the world wide web and can be updated with a simple click of the refresh button. I use a task management tool called Asana and it has a live update feature for chatting and new tasks. Why can’t the same be true for my email?

I understand that there is a lot of sensitive material in most people’s email and security is a paramount concern, but I would be willing to give FastCompany permission to create some kind of link to their newsletter inside my email. It would cut down on how many emails I get because they would only have to send me one…ever. I don’t need 20 different emails to remind me to approve a photo I was tagged in on Facebook. Send me one, that is constantly updated as more information is provided. My email conversations would no longer need to be email chains. It could be one, long running chat that is constantly updated vs. a set of tabs for each individual email I’ve received and sent.

I would still have the ability to cancel or “remove” the permission I had given to that individual or entity and even delete certain conversation pieces while maintaining the integrity of my communication, streamlining the whole process. I’m sure it’s a lot more complicated than I can imagine, but it would be neat.

Take a few minutes and think about it. If you have an opinion, I’ve posed a similar topic on TED.

I don’t know if this made you better, but I hope it threw a few sparks of your own…

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