MG Siegler, a writer for TechCrunch, quit email last week. He just couldn’t handle the volume of email he was getting, or the guilt and stress that comes with it, so he quit. This week, he’s made a slight concession, coming back using a service calling Shortmail:
At its most basic, Shortmail is a new front-end service for email with one very key feature: a 500-character limit for each message. Yes, it’s like Twitter for email. But it’s not just Twitter for email. There are other interesting elements of the service too. For example, you can set any Shortmail conversation to be private or public.
Austin Carr describes more for Fast Company:
In more ways than one, 410 Labs is framing the service as the Twitter of email. But it also seems that it’s trying to be the email of Twitter. If you already have a Twitter account, then you already own a Shortmail address. For example, my handle, @AustinCarr, already reserved AustinCarr@shortmail.com–the account is just waiting to be claimed. The messages themselves are designed as extensions of a Twitter message–for whatever you can’t fit in your 140 character tweet, clearly. What’s more, messages can be delivered privately or publicly, playing along with how tweets are visible to all.
I love the idea of Shortmail, for a few reasons. Primarily, I love the idea that my Twitter username (@piercedavid) reserved email@example.com (which, by the way, I’ve started using, so feel free to hit me up). The interface is fantastic as well, a good-looking way to handle short conversations. But mostly I love the enforced be-brief limit, which means that not only can I send short emails but I can do it without feeling bad, because I have to.
At first glance, this isn’t going to replace everything about email – I don’t imagine it handles things like Groupon emails particularly well. So, for the time being at least, it appears that unless you’re willing to take as big a step as MG did, you’re going to need two different email systems, and that’s not exactly an efficient system either. But the stressful part about email isn’t the Groupon emails, it’s the correspondence, the communication, business and endless questions and Reply Alls that pile up. And Shortmail is, if not a complete solution, a gigantic step in the right direction.