Dan Ariely’s great idea: Shortwhale

Dan Ariely of Duke University is a pioneer behavioural economist. But he is also entrepreneurial. His latest little venture is Shortwhale and it solves a problem that many people, especially academics, have: email overload. Here is Ariely’s explanation.

The idea is simple. When people you don’t know contact you, it is hard to parse what to do with their email. Often they languish in an inbox. But if the email had a structure, you could deal with it quickly. That is where Shortwhale comes in.

The easiest way to understand it is to look at my one. You will see that I customise and limit the number of subject headings. There is a list to demonstrate urgency. There is a yes/no if you need a reply. There is the ability to put in information about yourself (which comes to me in a highlighted box). And finally, you can put the text of the message in but it is limited to 500 characters and there is a tool using simple Markdown like terms to allow you to give me a multiple choice question that I can answer with a single click! Suffice it to say, it is brilliant.

Now I just have to work out how to expunge all my public emails and have them redirect to this page.

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