Research: Managing e-mail

Scott Hanselman: Current e-mail tools are like looking at a conversation with a magnifying glass. It's easy to see the details but difficult to get an overall picture. In Venolia's interface you view conversations as a whole instead of as individual messages. The initial message is shown at the top, and the most recent reply at the bottom, followed by the text box to input your response, similar to a chat format:

She found out that about half the time you use e-mail, it's a no-brainer. Someone sends you a message, you reply, they reply back, and it's done. But if there's nine people on the 'to' line, and each one is throwing his or her hat into the conversational ring -- making decisions, offering suggestions, providing links to back up their story, or jumping in to IM you -- it becomes harder to understand who is saying what to whom. In Venolia's interface you can see what a message is a reply to by looking at the heavy black lines that join the messages

Finding an email conversation weeks or months after you've finished it can be maddening. You might look for it under a person's name, but maybe that person isn't someone who you do business with regularly, so you don't quite remember the name. Or you could look for it by date - but if it was months ago, that could be a problem, especially if you aren't sure whether it was March or May or June. There are multiple ways to remember facts and information. So why shouldn't you be able to store and retrieve it in multiple ways? Venolia's interface allows you find conversations by date, person and other attributes or to label your conversations using keywords of your own.

Interesting research.