email is a really nice interface
email email email
I am probably the one person in the world who actually likes the email interface.
Not just the concept of sending emails, the whole interface.
When it comes down to it, I mostly hate getting emails. To combat that, I've been aggressively deleting any accounts that I don't actively use which has got my password manager down to about twenty accounts. What this has resulted in is me almost never getting emails, and when I do get them they're almost always off real people (or something I otherwise actually care about, like some artist on Bandcamp releasing something).
Email itself excites me (I know, I'm really sad) and now that I don't get emails I like it even more. But because it's feasible for me to take the time to actually read all my mail in the morning now, I started thinking about what else I could access through this interface.
What is it that's good about email? The main things for me are its text oriented nature, its ease of workflow integration and the fact that it's slow. Let's unpack these one by one.
I find images distracting. Text-oriented things tend to have more actual thought behind them (obviously tabloid newspapers dispute this but whatever) and I end up spending more time thinking about what was written. In my books, this is one hundred percent an advantage. Long form content is something I want to consume more of. Being text-focused also has the advantage of working well in the most mediums - that is, on screens, printers, and as audio.
What with email being a bunch of Standards and Protocols (TM), there are lots of clients available, which is good because it means that however you like to get your email, whether in something awful like Gmail, mediocre like Thunderbird, or excellent like mu4e, you can! Whether you prefer notmuch's tagging system or a traditional folder system, or just do what I do and delete most messages, there's a client and workflow which uh, makes your work flow.
Email is slow. Unfortunately nowadays (I can't quite believe I was born this millenium and just said "nowadays") the workflow for email seems to be to send an email, wait two minutes, and then attack other more immediate messaging channels to force the recipient to read and respond. This is a shame, because I think it's good that email is slow (and what I think obviously matters a lot). I can read an email and take my time in deciding what to do with it, like delete it or sort it into spam. Because of the longform focus of email, I can even not read an email for a few days and it'll still make sense and have context when I get to it.
So I was having a think about what kind of things could work in my inbox, the kind of things that are okay with being slow. Obviously RSS feeds come to mind, and I want to get this working at some point but rather embarassingly I haven't managed to get any of the main systems for this to work.
Beyond RSS, having a weather email (in the style of wttr.in for example) would be useful. As would diary updates for birthdays and the like. Essentially I guess I'm asking for the Facebook timeline but without all the stuff that make people hate it, like being Facebook.
I want to explore this interface further. Hopefully I'll get the RSS stuff working soon, and then it shouldn't be difficult to stick a weather feed in there too. With regards to events, I'm working on a little diary utility (I know they exist already, and that I'm using Emacs so should probably get at org, but you know, yaks exist for a reason) which shouldn't make that functionality difficult.