Ah, Email. Where would we be without the flood of email that greets us every morning? Email is one of the oldest protocols for communicating via the Internet — in fact, the first RFC for standardizing email headers was proposed in 1973. That’s older than me!
Email is the default method of collaboration for all knowledge workers. It’s a very flexible system, and that’s why it tends to fill the gaps where other collaboration systems fall down — you can always go back to sending email.
This flexibility has led to the emergence of all kinds of proprietary and non-proprietary extensions to email. For example, although they look different, Microsoft Outlook implements Messages, Calendar Items, Meetings, and Tasks on an underlying email template. The Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, or MIME, originally created for email, has grown to become the predominant way that all content is described on the internet.
There’s a lot of conversation in the Enterprise 2.0 community about where email fits in this new puzzle. Luis Suarez talks about how he managed to kill his inbox and kick the email habit altogether, whereas Sam Driessen suggests the complete opposite — that any effective 2.0 tool has to start with the inbox.
Well, here at Infovark, we decided that we would have to make a decision on this one way or the other. Both Dean and I are really not fans of email. There should definitely be a better default. And yet, if we wanted to help people share their information, we would have to go where the information lives. So we added a template to support email.
In keeping with Infovark’s philosophy of sharing your work without any work, Infovark scans your Outlook inbox in much the same way as it does with files – you tell your Infovark which folders in Outlook you want to share:
Infovark takes care of the rest. As emails arrive, (or as you move them into folders), the Infovark Outlook Crawler will pick them up, read them, tag them, and share them with your colleagues on your Infovark website on your local machine:
Unlike our file template, the Infovark web site displays the complete text of an email. It also indexes them, so you can search for them outside of Outlook, and if you happen to have one of those evil quotas on your inbox, Infovark can take snapshots of your mail, so you can keep stuff that your sysadmin won’t let you keep. Attachments are automatically stored as local files and related to the original email.
Just like our file template, you can add tags and rate the email, but in keeping with the email paradigm, you can’t edit the text of a sent email itself.
We also offer the option to access this information within Outlook itself, through our outlook utility, that we call “Outvark”. (You can read more about that here.)
So, that’s how your Infovark can help turn your idle forgotten emails into an interactive website that you can share with your colleagues. Next stop on our whirlwind tour: the contact template.