US Professor develops 'polite' email tool

Computing Professor develops email etiquette software.

Email

Experts from the Georgian Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech as it is known, have developed a tool designed to help with email etiquette.

The software, dubbed courteous.ly shows email loads in real-time, meaning you can see when a contact is under a heavy workload and give them some space. Courteous.ly currently integrates with Google-based mail.

People tend to be pretty good at etiquette face-to-face when they have the right cues. This is something that up until now has been lacking in email due to the remote and distant nature of the technology involved, according to Eric Gilbert, Professor of Computing at the institution. Courteous.ly aims to rectify this, he claimed.

"I think we're really good at the etiquette part when we have the cues that allow us to be polite. Courteous.ly helps manage expectations and lets people choose to send mail when it's best for you," he said.

"Email is the internet's first and most prolific social medium, going back all the way to the 1960s, and it's often overlooked and under-analysed in comparison to newer channels. That makes it an attractive place to do research because everybody uses it but not a lot of innovation has happened in a long time. There's definitely room for improvement."

Courteous.ly checks a user's email inbox over a period of 12 hours. The analysis then determines your email habits and figures out what constitutes a heavy or light workload and updates your status every 10 minutes. This status is accessible via a link which you can distribute in your email signature, so your established contacts can keep tabs on when to send you mail or not.

Better still, the software figures out the best windows of opportunity for emailing users based on their usage. Gilbert has said he is considering developing live widgets for blogs and websites to make the software even more useful.

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