In 2006, the average email user received 126 messages per day, an increase of 55 per cent since 2003, according to research by The Radicati Group. So how do we sort the vital information from the dross?
In 2006, the average email user received 126 messages per day, an increase of 55 per cent since 2003, according to research by The Radicati Group.
Dr Byron Reeves, a professor of education at Stanford University, has developed a system aimed at combating this ‘information overload’.
He argues that while some companies experiment with reducing inbox size or instituting ‘email-free Fridays’, these measures simply penalise the recipient rather than the sender.
Flags that highlight the importance of an email are supposed to reduce the time spent dealing with less important messages, but a system of high, medium or low priority is quickly misused and ends up having no currency among users.
Through his company Seriosity, Reeves has designed a virtual currency called Serios, which allows users to assign values to their messages as they send them. Users are given an equal number of Serios each week and they can spend, save or trade them like an actual currency.
Attaching more Serios to a message means that the sender believes it to be more important. The recipient can then respond with an equal amount, reward the sender by giving back more or, if they don’t value the email at all, send back none at all.
According to Seriosity, this means that users quickly establish what is important
to each other and develop a more efficient way of communicating through an information economy.