Google Gmail’s priority inbox is rolling out gradually rolling out. In a nutshell it helps you find the needle of critical emails in the haystack of your inbox. If you’re like me or most other users, despite implementing a system of labels, starring, and archiving you still end up missing important messages.
Trying to keep your inbox down to zero is a futile attempt that only results in you frantically checking your emails regardless of where you are, be it your desk, on your phone, or even logging in at a random public computer in an internet cafe. You still can’t escape that sinking feeling when you boot your computer on Monday.
Gmail already does a great job with spam filters and a core part of their search technology is trying to keep ahead of marketers trying to grab your attention with lackluster content, so it was only a matter of time before they extended that technology to keep you one step ahead of your inbox.
The way it works is that you’re given another “priority” inbox that predicts which messages are likely to be important to you. As you go through these messages you vote these messages “+” or “-” depending on how accurate the priority inbox was. For messages that didn’t make the cut, you can vote them up for next time. Within the priority inbox, starred messages are shown in a split view so you can go back and process those.
I recently declared email bankruptcy right before I was invited into the beta, but it looks very promising so far. My inbox was getting quite unkempt and now I wont have to worry so much about scanning headers so diligently.
Despite being quite useful, I can’t help but wonder how much more dependent I can become on Google and their helpful algorithms before I let my own tastes be defined by machines.
The explosion of information coming in via social networks and media is making it more and more important to find ways to curate content. Another approach we’ve seen is social curation efforts such as Flipboard where you’re presented with a mix of news based on what your social network friends are sharing and semantic analysis. This space will probably grow more as we digest more information.