Email glut is a big problem for individuals and companies. A recent Symantec Intelligence Report estimates that about two-thirds of all email sent these days is spam. The Radicati Group reckons that 144 billion emails are sent per day, and that’s ignoring mobile users.
Slack, a tool for office collaboration and communication, created by a team of cofounders who designed the web photo-sharing site Flickr, launches today in a preview release. It's meant to reduce or eliminate workplace email, and to compete with services like Yammer and Campfire.
Even if spam filters are getting pretty good at catching the unwanted message, there’s a sense in which all email is basically spam, suggests Slack cofounder Stewart Butterfield. It’s simply more clunky and intrusive than most communications need to be. “It’s the least efficient way to send a message, with the most cognitive overhead,” Butterfield tells Fast Company. “If someone I worked with emailed me, I’d probably fire them.”
Then again, they should know better by now, having helped create what is meant to be an email killer. Slack presents as a main window for chatting flanked by a bar on the left offering various ways of being in touch; topmost is a list of “channels,” or topics. A channel is highlighted in white when you’ve missed out on some of the chatting going on in that channel; a red number is displayed beside a channel if someone has mentioned you by name. Scroll down on the left bar and there are other ways of being in touch, including Direct Message or private groups. It’s ordered top to bottom from the least intrusive ways to communicate to the most intrusive ways to communicate, Butterfield explains.