Reinventing the Wheel. Literally.

A new Cambridge based startup, Superpedestrian, is reinventing the wheel. Literally.

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Not Google Glass

Atheer Labs, a startup that got off the ground using Indiegogo, is promising a Google Glass competitor that’s better than the original.

Mailbox Promises to Solve Your Email Problem

A new startup called Mailbox is promising to solve your email problem by letting you snooze some messages. An interesting email exchange regarding some of the UI choices they’ve made after the jump.

Me: Just started using it. One issue is that I sort all my Gmail with labels and those don’t appear in Mailbox meaning that a lot of junk is intertwined with important emails. So my suggestion would be to incorporate labels.

Mailbox: Hi Marat,

Thanks for your email!

As noted on our FAQ website (http://bit.ly/1bQNl8f), labels/folders are something we continue to consider how to best support.

At present, Mailbox implements and encourages a different form of email storage/filing than Gmail, iCloud, or Yahoo. We’ve found that encouraging people to minimize the use of labels has a huge benefit in terms of productivity, so our initial product only syncs labels inside of the [Mailbox] label (as seen on your Gmail, Yahoo, or iCloud web app).

For many users, relying on search and snoozes significantly reduces the need for labels and filing systems. We know this can be a challenging behavioral shift; we encourage you to try it.

We believe there are a couple of good use cases of folders (like clustering a bunch of messages that you need to tackle later at once) and a ton of bad ones (like ‘filing’ everything you’ve done and think you might want to reference someday).

If you’re interested, we’ve found the following blog informative regarding label use and tradeoffs (http://blog.jarederondu.com/mailbox-app-rethinking-labels).

All of that said, Mailbox is being designed to promote productive and transferrable behaviors across various platforms (e.g. Gmail, Exchange, iCloud, Yahoo) and clients (i.e. iOS, Android, desktop).

We understand behavior change can be difficult and we do appreciate your feedback. Mailbox is a constant work in progress, and user feedback will influence how it’s shaped.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks for using Mailbox!

Me: I understand your points, but I disagree. Let’s see if you understand mine. It isn’t about changing behavior. Most people, like me, simply get a lot of email that isn’t really important at all. I simply don’t want to have to sift through it all the time. I go and look at it once in a while when I have the time. I want to sift only through emails that are addressed directly to me by real people. I also have a system where all my emails go through my own server and get assigned labels like “personal”, “finances”, “shopping”, etc automatically because I actually use different email addresses. With Mailbox all of a sudden all that email that was nicely separated is now in one giant pile. That certainly doesn’t make me more efficient. Quite the opposite. All the junk I normally don’t even look at unless I want to now gets in my way.

This was pretty much the end of our conversation. They thanked me for the feedback and told me to feel free to suggest anything else.

What do you think? Has Mailbox solved the email problem for you or made it worse? For me personally the lack of labels became a non-starter, as it totally blows up the rather well oiled system I’ve been using for years.

I Can’t Wait for 1960!

While visiting the Museum of New York City came across this fascinating piece made in 1940. An idealistic look at what our urban infrastructure was supposed to look like just 20 years in the future, by 1960, as seen through the eyes of pre-World War II visionaries. It’s 2014 and we’ve still got a long, long way to go.