Interview: Ana Neves

Another issue on our series of interviews with people that embody the very spirit Mailcube strives to achieve: inventiveness and out-of-the-box thinking with productivity and quality of life in mind.

Ana Neves is an IT engineer that has dedicated her life to digital interaction and the tools we use for it. As one of Portugal’s leading web citizenship enthusiasts, she has promoted countless seminar projects (check her platform KMOL for details). In 2001 she founded Knowman, a consulting firm that specializes in knowledge management.

Mailcube: How did your career in corporate consulting begin? Is it something that’s always motivated you, or was there one specific moment when it all started to make sense?

Ana Neves: I’ve always liked listening to other people. And helping out. In the year before I graduated, I fell in love with organizations, with the way people worked and learned together – or didn

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Interview: Gonçalo Gil Mata, Part 2

So far, we have endeavoured to explore the topography of email usage – first by tracing the pitfalls associated with its use, and then by attempting to climb the heights this technology can aspire to. Now, we begin a series of profiles on people that embody the very spirit Mailcube strives to achieve: inventiveness and out-of-the-box thinking with productivity and quality of life in mind.

Gonçalo Gil Mata is a computer engineer and founder of Mind4Time, a coaching company with a focus on better time management. On the occasion of the publishing of his latest book, we sat with him for a conversation on email and beyond. This is part two of that interview.

Mailcube: Earlier we were discussing your recommendations for clients regarding email. How about personal rules? How do you handle email?

Gonçalo Mata: My work revolves around keynote speaking, training, seminars and coaching. This means I have long

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Interview: Gonçalo Gil Mata, Part 1

So far, we have endeavored to explore the topography of email usage – first by tracing the pitfalls associated with its use, and then by attempting to climb the possible heights this technology can aspire to. Now, we begin a series of profiles on people that embody the very spirit Mailcube strives to achieve: inventiveness and out-of-the-box thinking with productivity and quality of life in mind.

Gonçalo Gil Mata is a computer engineer and founder of Mind4Time, a coaching company with a focus on better time management. On the occasion of the publishing of his latest book, we sat with him for a conversation on email and beyond. This is part one of that interview.

Mailcube: Starting off right at the beginning: you began your career in a very straightforward job in IT, correct?

Gonçalo Mata: I had a very traditional early career, both by choice – as I wanted to have

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On the passing of Mr. Ray Tomlinson

This month robbed us of an internet elder. Ray Tomlinson passed away at age 74, victim of cardiac arrest. The word ‘pioneer’ seems small when referring to someone who helped build the very foundations of what is now a planetary megastructure.

Over a year ago, the first post on this blog paid homage to Ray Tomlinson. His name was inescapable, as he is the very inventor of our subject matter: email. And the way Tomlinson went about inventing email is symptomatic of the romantic and daring spirit of the information technology prophets.

The year was 1971, and the place was ARPANET – The American military’s foray into what would become the internet. At the time, Ray Tomlinson was one of the engineers assigned to develop the TCP/IP protocols. But as a side project, he started working in a messaging program. There were no angel investors, brainstorming sessions or whiteboard

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Ready when you are – actions and “notific-actions”

When it comes to email, the trend is to have merely one type of notification: new email. Not a qualitative notification, and often not even a quantitative one. When it comes to option, you’re presented with the chance to merely turn these notifications on or off.

Sending texts on our mobile phones is now as integral to their function as making calls. And for some demographics, they even supplanted calling as the device’s primary function. But the fact remains that an SMS is merely a happy by-product of your phone pinging the network, and operators actually don’t spend any kind of resources maintaining that service. It is a clear example of function-minded engineering.

And the spirit of a message piggybacking on GSM signal could find a similar outlet in the realm of notifications. Those pesky little updates from a myriad of platforms are always waiting to strike

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Deadlines brought to life: the calendar in our emails

Each email is associated to one date only: its sending time. But how many time-sensitive events can that email contain?

Time flies when you’re having fun. But it also flies when you’re dealing with the clutter in your inbox. And as more time flies, it gets harder and harder to recollect when exactly you received such-and-such emails. Email clients aren’t much help either: if you can’t avail yourself of search keywords, there’s no option for a sort of “timeframe” browsing.

And this is merely the “where from” side of the calendar. For almost every one of these, there’s a “where to” in the form of deadlines, meetings, and other assorted forms of time-setting. Extracting calendarization details from an email is something best done in a timely fashion. After the relevant email has plunged down your archives, finding out a date associated with a certain

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Me and You and Everyone We Know

Sometimes it gets hard seeing eye to eye with email’s contacts system. For every “user@domain” there is information that can be found elsewhere – but you’ll have to be the one doing the finding.

Even when reduced to its simplest tasks and systematized, organizing your contacts can be a real pain. You have to pluck information from sources such as emails, social networks, business cards, or even elusive post-its.

Even after you have managed to build a solid database on your email client, there remain a few problems: what about multiple contacts for the same person? and what communications are best sent to which of those addresses? We tend to rely on a person’s email signature to discover job title, telephone numbers, or organization. But this data can be retrieved easily using only the email address, and not relying on the usefulness of a signature.

A possible

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Mirror mirror on my email

There’s a wealth of information about our rhythms and routines scattered about our email inboxes. What if we could gain valuable personal insights from this data?

Back when Edward Snowden leaked the details about the NSA’s PRISM program, a lot of people seemed unphazed by the government’s monitoring of metadata on emails. However, all these snippets of information regarding things like senders, receivers and timestamps can be analyzed together to paint a rough picture of someone’s habits. Even before the NSA scandal broke, an academic paper already outlined how, combined with ancillary information, metadata can be used to correctly identify someone in a broad universe.

How about using these high-end espionage techniques to better purposes? By giving your email client (and your email client alone) access to all the data contained in your inbox, you would be able to successfully diagnose your routine. Usage times, peak

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After the diagnosis comes the prescription

Outlining the editorial shift on this blog

Necessary, but detested. Treasured, but unwieldy. Declared dead, but more used than ever. Email is a source of conflict and paradox, but as far as web platforms go it’s the simplest one around.

So far on this space we’ve attempted to trace the rougher edges of a service that seems to mirror our lives, in their tangled and frayed ends. After covering in detail the areas in which email seems to underperform, we’ve established that some faults lie with us, and others in the lacking functionalities of email.

Aspects such as time management, composition criteria or proper file naming can be solved with a modicum of effort on our part, and result in clear efficiency gains. The rest, however, seems to demand another kind of approach entirely – if the burden of solving email’s problems lies on the users, that

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Out of a midlife crisis and onward to a gilded second youth

Is it time for a new form of electronic postage, or have the reports of email's death been greatly exaggerated?

Email presents itself as a paradox: it is the most enduring and transversal internet platform, but its static nature in regards to development seems to challenge the notion that internet services race each other in an attempt to be flashier and more complex. This stubborn framework begins to show some signs of fatigue, however. Over the course of the last few posts on this blog, we attempted to navigate the resulting pains associated with email use.

We began by dissecting the number one complaint, inbox overload. The clutter of messages is something that seems to affect every user, but no easy solutions have yet emerged. The remedies we proposed tended to do away with messages – an effective if not elegant measure.

Next we tackled the concerns over time efficiency. Of

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