Email in 2020

It's been close to 20 years since my dad made me my first email account — the_splitsecond@juno.com — I don't have access to it anymore, I don't even remember exactly when I stopped using it. Probably at some point during my freshman year of high school after a classmate (shoutout Christy Mason) invited me to gmail's closed beta.

The early days of email were so magical — I could communicate way faster, more often, and basically for free with my grandparents who lived multiple time-zones away. The ancient dial-up noises that my kids will probably only ever hear watching old movies, the thrill of a long download time because there was more than one new email or maybe pictures!

With the introduction of Gmail in early 2004 came a whole new wave of excitement, this also coincided with our family's much-delayed entrance into modernity with an upgrade from dial-up to DSL. Email was once again exciting — in addition to near-instantaneous back-and-forths with grandparents, checking email on the school computers during breaks or study halls to see if my latest crush had responded...I think around this time I had started to appreciate the value of investing time into learning how to use digital tools. Using the newfangled search operators, enabling the experimental labs, and learning all the keyboard shortcuts were all things that I've found immensely useful and have returned immeasurable dividends in time and productivity gains over the years.

In college, I first started to realize that email was a double-edged sword. Anyone could email you and ask you for something, email marketing was starting to become more sophisticated and pervasive, and generally people didn't have the greatest email etiquette.

By this time I had amassed a number of Gmail (and Yahoo, and others) email addresses, using aliases and forwarding rules to help keep my craigslist communication separate from all my random newsletter subscriptions and those separate from the various online transactions — I actually have a decent system in place, but still there are things that get through, to this day there are regular digests that I delete by hand because it's often easier to just swipe on my phone, instead of creating the filter and rule in the browser.

After graduating in one of the more difficult eras for jobs, I did land a job doing, ironically enough, email marketing. It wasn't the only thing I did for that company, but I did learn a decent amount about the tactics and techniques...it was also when I first started disabling images from loading by default.

All that to say — Hey has been on my radar for awhile. I'm a fairly regular listener of the ReWork podcast (typically listen during my commute, which hasn't happened for almost 4 months), so I'd heard about it, but to be completely honest I didn't think anything could really replace the power of gmail's search. Especially since so much of my life is in gmail.

But after watching Jason's tour, the search feature, while important — is overshadowed by the philosophical paradigm shift — I want to enjoy email again. Being able to see images without being tracked, have sensible notification defaults, and really use it to get things done instead of the sisyphean drive to inbox 0...really sounds good.

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Copyright © 2020 Paul Hanaoka.