Late last night I got to wondering where the web has gone in the past fifteen years. I am one those that grew up interacting with the web. While it began with bulletin board systems for me, followed by Compuserve and then AOL, the way that I and millions of others were connecting was forever changed. Then when Friendster launched in 2002, social networking was brought to the forefront. Something else was also taking place behind the scenes of online networking.
Email had gone mainstream over a decade prior to the rise of social networking. As many began to realize, email was broken but social network messaging systems were nothing better. As we register for one site after the other, we search for new ways to interact with the goal of easing the burden of excess connections. There is no way I can possibly get through my daily routine and filter through all my email and still manage to maintain a living. Then again, I am also over-ambitious and perhaps bite off more than I can chew on a regular basis.
Whatever the reason is for the messaging burdens within my life, I know that millions of others are now experiencing the exact same thing. Last night I began to wonder, how on earth can I devise a more effective system for filtering all of my messages. My conclusion involved Facebook’s recently added friend grouping feature. If you have read the book “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi, you will most definitely remember Keith’s obssession with prioritizing the various contacts in his life.
Even his family members had a rating of importance on a scale of 1 to 10 (I’d imagine his family members ranked as a 10). If you think about it, you could rank absolutely all of your social connections based on their level of personal importance just as Keith did. This is where Facebook’s friend grouping feature becomes so useful. If you could automatically assign a level of importance to each of your friend groups, you could theoretically generate a simple messaging filter that groups your messages more effectively.
Once you read through all of your high priority messages (from high priority individuals) you can postpone responding to lower-priority messages until a later date. Perhaps you could outsource these messages to an offshore virtual assistant just as Tim Ferris does. This is just one solution but ultimately most of you will eventually face the same challenges that I am discussing if you aren’t facing it already. Someone is going to have to come up with a better solution for filtering my messages and doing so based on the strength of my connection with a person would surely be an efficient way to do it.
What do you think? Is it possible to leverage your custom ranked social graph for filtering email? Will Facebook upgrade their messaging system to make filtering more efficient? I could see Facebook serving as a sort of intermediary that filters and redirects all of my email based on my connections.