1915: Nightmare Email Feature
|Nightmare Email Feature|
Title text: "...just got back and didn't see your message until just now. Sorry! -- TIME THIS MESSAGE SAT HALF-FINISHED IN DRAFTS FOLDER: 3 days, 2 hours, 45 minutes."
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Added explanation of the e-mail itself, but it could need a tweak...|
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
Most modern email clients provide tools to help their users read, write and keep track of email efficiently. For instance, the user may receive a notification if the email body contains wording that suggests a file has been attached, but there is no actual attachment, in order to prevent forgetting to include the intended file in the email.
This comic suggests a similar feature, one which would inform not the user, but the recipient of the message, how long the email has been revised before being sent. This is an expansion of a common feature of collaboration tools used by law firms, and modern word processors such as Microsoft Word 2016. Randall calls this his nightmare email feature, implying he spends too much time in revision of what should be simple email messages and that making himself, or worse - the recipient, aware of the actual time would make him anxious.
In the shown case it seems that the recipient of the shown e-mail had asked to their latest meeting and asks if he want to do it again this weekend. It then took 47 minutes to write a short reply in which he ends up saying he enjoyed the thing referred to. But alas he has no time this weekend. And then let the other suggest a possible time for a dinner... or something. (Of course there could be more to the email above the panel, but it seems to be a very short answer to another e-mail, and it increases the nightmare for the writer (and the impact of the joke) if this was all that was written in 47 minutes).
If the text had been written out in less than 2 minutes, it would not have been a problem. But it seemed the writer of this e-mail had to think a lot about how it was phrased. This could lead the recipient to wonder what took so long. Was it that he did not enjoy it, but ended up writing this to be nice? He only writes he is busy this weekend, thus not giving any reason as to why. And the last part gives him the possibility to also "be busy" on whatever time is suggested for dinner. Also whatever is very non committing. All this is also true if it had been written in 2 minutes, but then at least there would not have been time to think a lot about how the reply was phrased.
The title text describes a similar uncomfortable feature, which would inform the recipient how long a message has been sitting in the user's drafts folder, thus highlighting their procrastination as well as demonstrating that "(...)didn't see your message until just now" is a lie, or at least it was only true when the original message was written, and now three days later another message should have been written instead.
Randall has explored a related anxiety-inducing feature of instant messaging in 1886: Typing Notifications.
- [A panel with a short email message, with the first line partly obscured by the top of the panel. Below that, in light gray font, is an information message from the email client.]
- Enjoyed it! I'm busy this weekend, but let me know if you're free sometime next week and want to get dinner or something.
- Total time spent revising this email before sending: 47 minutes 12 seconds
- [Caption below the panel:]
- My nightmare email feature
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