Overstuffed inboxes (or Law and technology 2)

The second article that caught my eye in Wired this month was Clive Thompson’s The Great American Timesuck. The article was singing the praises of AI-equipped email monitors like Xobni and ClearContext (which somehow I don’t think my IT manager would like, although he will be spared my trying to download either as we run on a thin-client system).

What caught my eye were the following paragraphs,

Artificial intelligence in the service of life-hacking: It’s the future of email.

And God knows we need a better future for email, because the present is intolerable. This once-miraculous productivity tool has metastasized into one of the biggest timesucks in American life. Studies show that there are 77 billion corporate email messages sent every day, worldwide. By 2012, that number is expected to more than double. The Radicati Group calculates that we already spend nearly a fifth of our day dealing with these messages; imagine a few years down the road, when it takes up 40 percentof our time. “It’s madness,” says Merlin Mann, who runs 43Folders.com, a leading productivity blog. “We’re all desperately trying to figure out how to cut stuff so we can get through the day, and it just gets harder and harder.” (Mann advocates dealing with incoming messages immediately so your inbox is always empty. Me [Thompson], I’ve got 12,802 messages in there right now.)

Why has email spun so badly out of control? Because it’s asymmetric — incredibly easy to send but often devilishly burdensome to receive.

For lawyers, where email is the preferred mode of communication, the above is all too true, and we are all having to deal with the problem of overstuffed inboxes.

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