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Making Email a Useful Web App

Location: 2002 Level: Novice

Why does email continues to thrive despite “email overload” and the occasional need to declare “email bankruptcy.” Why hasn’t it gone away? What does it want from us? Where is it going (aside from my inbox)? What is its ongoing role in a Web 2.0 world?

Email is a thin wrapper of technology around the innately understandable medium of the written word. It provides context and conversation—both explicit and implicit—like nothing else. It is inherently social and collaborative—for lack of a better term, it might even be called a “social network.” And email is a flexible “carrier wave” for wondrous applications: photo albums, file-sharing, backup, invitations, notifications, threaded discussion …

This session delves into the lessons we’ve learned from email, what it still has to teach us about simplicity, virality, frequency, distribution, and timeliness, and how much more it still has to contribute to the conversation.

We’ll survey the landscape of historical, current, and future killer email apps with an eye to building left-justified, text-only applications that allow email to do more, not just suck less.

And we’ll tuck in to just what it takes to create email-dwelling services and applications, from the envelope on in to the words inside: the filtering, cleaning, parsing, and crafting that goes into creating a compelling, conversational interface to data, information, services, workflow—and even other people.

Andy Denmark


At TripIt, Andy’s job is to keep the site running as smoothly as a perfect vacation. A dedicated do-it-yourself (DIY) travel planner, Andy packs his vacations full of sightseeing, eating and just hanging out: “For me, traveling is all about doing it like the locals and getting a flavor of what daily life is like in a given place.”

Andy came to TripIt with more than 13 years of software development and operations experience. Prior to joining TripIt, Andy was director of Suites Engineering at Opsware, Inc. (formerly Loudcloud) and was responsible for the engineering strategy for product suite integration. Before Opsware, Andy was chief technology officer for the real estate portal CityRealty.com and founder and chief engineer for the Internet consulting firm Mediabridge Infosystems. Andy has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and an M.S. in Computer Science from Columbia University.