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November 14, 2007



You said it all! Great follow up post. Windows Live is another great add-on to already existing utilities. I hope you, OM and others continue to write on this subject matter - far too much time and effort has been wasted on the so-called "next social-net" - the real deal has been around for a very long time in the form of an Inbox!!!

Mukund Mohan

The only caveat is that a lot of people (including me) are using facebook messaging for email (literally no spam) and using our other email address more infrequently. I think email for a subset of people does not represent their social network, since there are usually 2-3 email addresses per person.


Collaboration should never be in email as a) not everyone is on the CC: list, b) it gets deleted, c) it gets forwarded to the wrong people, d) there isn't a revision history with it, e) people can't add to the conversation without repeating the entire email or doing some screwy Jeopardy style posting (thank you Outlook), f) you can't easily link to other items in it.

I could go on and on about how wikis are better for collaboration than a write once medium. Even MSFT knows this with their Sharepoint software which is a step in the right direction (but still relies on people posting awful powerpoint and word docs).


You're so right! I've been wanting to build a travel-oriented social networking service on top of email, and I've talked about it in posts like http://www.emergentchaos.com/archives/2005/05/single_serving.html . Unfortunately, I got distracted. :)

Don Dodge

BlogReader, Good points, and I could list another 5 reasons why email is not good for collaboration. But, the fact is that most business people use email to communicate and collaborate.

Believe me, I understand why modern collaboration tools are better. But, better doesn't matter. You can't get people to change their natural behvior just because something is "better". To them it is different and out of their normal workflow...so it doesn't fly.

I think the path of least resistance and higher user adoption, is to incorporate the collaboration and social network features that really matter into the email UI.

We are already seeing CRM applications do this...after failing to get user adoption as a stand alone application.


Zawinski's Law: "Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail."

Chris Dodge

"Email is where they naturally communicate and collaborate"

Reminds me of my former job at KubiSoft which was a Collaboration App in your Inbox (Outlook, Lotus Notes, etc) based on exactly that premise. We were a quasi-competitor with Groove.

Julio Estrada - the founder of KubiSoft - is now with Microsoft - I think under Ray Ozzie who "got it" regarding KubiSoft - so I'm sure his vision will somehow make it into the Office product line at some point.


Email clients today don't have the capabilities and interfaces to really be great collaboration environments. But as you say, it doesn't really matter - people still do it! And more importantly, email contains very deep information about much more than just relationships between people. Utilizing that information to enable more relevant and powerful interactions between people is why it makes perfect sense to expand messaging platforms to include some of the capabilities of social networking sites. More here: http://www.emaildashboard.com/2007/11/inbox-20---emai.html

Raj Lalwani

Social networking sites are indeed too public for most activities with one's inner circle of friends and family. While such sites are useful for meeting new people or reconnecting with old contacts, most social interactions with an inner circle of friends and family occur over email. For that email has a big role to play.

That is our belief at Innercircle.cc which makes it easy to connect and share things privately with your personal groups via email.

Niv Calderon

it's very interesting reading your post here. it seems it's the hottest conversation right now.
actually, i've just posted an entry yesterday about the evolution, or- the natual selection of social utilities and your post is also- just on that, the connection between web mail and socials.

The post i wrote is bilingual and the english is below: http://www.nivcalderon.com/2007/11/14/natural-selection-of-social-utilities/


One key to success will be to leverage social networking to combat spam. I almost want to have two inboxes, one for my contacts and one for people I don't know (yet). This will be a huge differentiator for these services. Spam avoidance is a big selling point for any good collaboration tool.

paul s.

Fantastic post Don, great points.

As a visually-oriented person, what I love most about social networking sites it the ability to literally SEE your friends, and how they relate to each other. The "Friend Wheel" on Facebook, actually, makes this stunningly visual, and acts as a good prompt to help me remember who all of my friends, how they know me, and who else they know. If this could be BUILT IN to email app, along with way find secondary contacts in my extended network, I would never use Facebook again, at least for that function. Gmail is already leaning in this direction: my Gchat contacts -- complete with avatars -- act as a default list of my best social contacts.

The only aspect of Facebook I don't see emerging from these new intra-email systems is the "billboard" aspect of being able to create a large, fully-functioning profile page available to all. It would be very interesting to see what Outlook etc. could do to replicate this most cherished aspect of social networking.

Fabrice BARBIN

Hi Don,

You said : " (...) The problem is that people LOVE email (...)"

I would not say people love emails. I think they are used to emails. They are maybe not aware that it exists other means to communicate and collaborate.

Taking this situation into consideration, the following asumption is right :

"Email is where people naturally communicate and collaborate."

As soon as they become aware they can use other tools (such as Groove that you mentionned) it becomes the favourite place to collaborate with their trusted business environment. Emails become a second choice to communicate with people who do not have (yet) access to these "advanced tools"

Regarding your comment on Groove / Collaboration, I agree that email is the right place to *start* a collaboration.
It is the right place to intiate a contact, to be recommended to a prospect, to qualify an opportunity...
In short, to go from a "I do not know this person" state to a "We have to work together" one...

When you need to work efficiently with another person or a team, email does not fit collaboration requirements:

- It is not enough business oriented : When I need to concentrate on business, I do not want to waste time sorting each email to check which one is a businness emails, which one is a spam, which one is private, which one may contains a virus...etc...
What I need is a "high level email" dedicated to business : When I get an secured instant message, I know for sure that it is related to my projects, my company...etc coming from well know persons...

- It is not enough secured : Security and trust are the 2 main requirements for a productive collaboration. Are you really ready to share confidential data through email? What I need is a system that ensure intellectual property protection, access control, strong user authentification...

- It is not enough "contextual" : When you would like to collaborate, you need to store in a single place all information dedicated to a project : actions to be done, documents generated as a result of these actions, communications archiving...etc
Email do not allow you to do that... Of course, you are able to store all your emails in a folder, but what about documents library, discussions, forms...all these pieces of data useful to achieve a project.

- There's no reference : When you use email to review documents, how do you manage versions... After several revisions, it becomes difficult to know who really has the right and final version...
And of course, with each email, the document is sent again and again... No reference, no known repository, a lot of bandwith used to sent each modification to each participant...

As you know, Groove provides every single user with all these features.

As a summary, I would say that emails and collaboration tools such as Groove and Outlook are both useful and provide a real complementarity. The most important, according to me, is to have a bridge between these 2 differents tools : Have a look to GrooveIT! for Microsoft Office Outlook to see what I mean. (http://www.grooveit.biz/en/foroutlook)

NB : I regret we did not get the chance to meet. I am working on Groove technologies for a while. (Groove Developer Partner since 2002, Groove SVAR since 2003, and now Microsoft Gold Certified Partner since Groove Networks was bought by Microsoft in 2005.) (More details on http://www.hommesetprocess.com)


One new social network site I found is Tuxxo.

Tuxxo combines the featurs of MySpace , YouTube and Flickr all in one site.

The place to go is http://tuxxo.com



How can we manage making new friends through email social networks. what are privacy if we start exposing our contacts to our friends.

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