Posts from May 2008.

ClearContext Personal Beta Launch Update

First of all, a huge thank you to everyone who has downloaded
or signed up for the ClearContext Personal beta. The level of
interest has been incredible. We’re
working hard so we can send invites to everyone still on the waiting list as
soon as possible.


One thing we didn’t really expect was how quickly so many people
would download, install, and send us feedback about their experience with
ClearContext Personal. Based on that, we’re
changing our plans a little bit. The
initial plan had been to roll out the first wave of invites to a group of
Outlook 2007 users, follow that with a quick round of bug fixes, and roll out
to a larger group of Outlook 2007 users plus Outlook 2003 users. We’ve received a lot of enhancement requests
and feature suggestions (many of which were already on our plans for the next
beta) from our beta testers in a few key areas that we agree will make the product both easier to use and more valuable to our users. So we’ve decided to extend development a few
weeks and roll a number of these changes into the product. People currently on the waitlist will
have to wait a little longer than initially planned, but the beta you’ll get
will be a much improved version of the product. Again, thanks a ton to everyone who has provided us with all this great
feedback. Here are a few key areas
we’re working on:

  • Guided Setup – walk-through during setup with more details
    on contact prioritization and options for
    color-coded inbox views
  • Filing – make one-click filing capability
    even smarter and more automatic, so keeping email organized will be even easier
  • Contacts and Attachments – additional
    actions on contacts and attachments, and make it easier to work with groups of related items
  • Message Prioritization – make it easier for people to customize how important messages from different contacts are to
  • Notification Managers – simplify the installation
    process for notification managers

We really appreciate all the feedback we’ve received so far
and are excited about these improvements that will make the product even easier
to use and give users a much better email experience from the first moment they
install the product. Please keep signing
up for the beta
and stay tuned to the blog for more
updates. Thanks!

ClearContext Personal Beta News Roundup

I don’t know if you noticed, but we had a few things written about our Personal Beta launch in the last few days.  Here’s a collection of the latest stories:

ClearContext’s Stab at Making Email More Manageable – May 19, 2008
Mark Hendrickson – TechCrunch
“ClearContext Personal has a number of tricks up its sleeve. First, it analyzes 30-40 characteristics of each message that hits your inbox to determine its priority…”

When Outlook Gets Personal, It Get Clear Context – May 19, 2008
Om Malik – GigaOm
“One really good reason to download this app: it automatically sort emails from a wide variety of applications and websites into nice little folders. You can quickly see how many Facebook messages or Evite invitations you got.”

ClearContext swings again, adding processing power to email – May 19, 2008
Chris Morrison – VentureBeat
“The idea for ClearContext is to cut down on the number of clicks, and the amount of thought, required to deal with email.”

ClearContext for Outlook announces public beta – May 19, 2008
Don Dodge – The Next Big Thing
“ClearContext helps with project management: sorting and categorizing emails relating to a particular subject or project.”

ClearContext tames Outlook – May 19, 2008
Rafe Needleman – Webware
“On Monday, ClearContext, which has had a paid, enterprise-level e-mail organizer for a while now, is releasing ClearContext Personal, a free, de-featured version of the product”

ClearContext Personal steps up the pressure on Xobni – or does it? – May 19, 2008
Tris Hussey – MapleLeaf 2.0
“For me, ClearContext’s power and utility has been the message prioritization and the ability to file away messages quickly.”

ClearContext Personal Beta Program Begins, Puts Outlook Information in Context to Prevent Email Overload – May 19, 2008
ClearContext Corporation
“Free ClearContext Personal Outlook Add-in Helps People Process Email Faster and Keep Their Information Organized”

Some additional information about the new release, along with a sign up for the Personal Beta, can be found here.  All of the features in Personal are being incorporated into the Professional product.  The Pro production release will be a free upgrade for all registered IMS v4 customers.  If you’re interested in signing up for the upcoming Beta of the Professional product, go to ClearContext > About from within Outlook, press Email Support and send that email along with the words BETA INFO in the body.  We’ll add you to the Pro beta list and let you know when a download is available.  Thanks!

ClearContext Personal Beta Launched to Improve Outlook for Everyone

All of us at ClearContext are really excited to announce the start of the beta program for ClearContext Personal.  This free Outlook add-in helps people organize their email and make their inbox (and email experience) just plain better.  At ClearContext, we have years of experience solving information overload challenges for email power users who deal with incredible amounts of email while managing multiple concurrent projects within Outlook.  In talking to lots of individuals and companies about those problems, we’ve found that it’s not just those users that are overwhelmed with email; it seems like just about all business email users are frustrated with email and feel stressed trying to keep up with it.  With ClearContext Personal, we expand the reach of our solutions to all Outlook email users who want a better answer to dealing with email overload.  Here’s a demo:

Our goal with ClearContext Personal is to identify the most common problems with email faced by users of all types and provide solutions that work without requiring any effort or behavior change on their part.  We want to help people figure out which email they need to deal with, put it in context with the information related to it so they have what they need to take action, and then automatically file it in the right place so all related information is neatly organized for them.  And all those huge reply-to-all threads, automated notification emails, and other unimportant messages clogging the inbox?  Yeah, put that to the side so they don’t keep getting interrupted.  Doesn’t that sound better already?

I’ve written a lot about how email needs to improve.  With this release of ClearContext Personal we’re taking some big steps towards addressing some of the key challenges I’ve discussed involving volume and context.  And that’s just the start.  TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and GigaOm have already written about this launch – we really appreciate the great coverage from those writers and are really excited that improving email has become one of the hottest topics of discussion and innovation lately.   

We’re all pretty tired around here and we still have a few finishing touches to put on some of the new web pages, so for now I’ll send you over to check out the ClearContext Personal product pages.  Later today or tomorrow I’ll make a post that goes into more detail about the functionality of this release, what to expect in upcoming releases (including ClearContext Professional – a free upgrade for registered IMS v4 customers that incorporates all the new features in ClearContext Personal), and all sorts of other  information about this launch.

I’ll end this post with a big THANK YOU to everyone who helped make this launch possible – everyone at ClearContext, the journalists/bloggers, and all of our incredible users who have given us such great feedback and assistance in developing a product we are sure you’ll love. 

Google Blogoscoped: Information Overload Tips

Philipp Lenssen at Google Blogoscoped asked several web luminaries a simple question:

“What are your top tips for dealing with information overflow?”

The result is a pretty interesting collection of tips from folks who consume a LOT of information.  Check it out.

Outlook Tip: Put Mail File Maintenance on Your Task List

I may sound like a broken record at times, but the first thing you should do when you encounter quirky Outlook performance issues – including slowness, startup issues and instability – is perform some mail maintenance.  This is particularly useful if you have recently installed/uninstalled some Outlook add-ins.

If you haven’t done so lately, I highly recommend that you review my post on Outlook Performance and Mail File Maintenance and take action to archive messages, compact your mail file and run SCANPST against it.  A little proactive maintenance here will go a long way towards keeping Outlook snappy.  In fact, go ahead and put it as a recurring task on your task list and run through the process every few months.  You’ll be glad that you did.

Seriosity White paper

Yes, we’re in a release cycle.  Long time readers know that that means posting will be light for a bit.  Here’s something for your reading pleasure in the meantime…

Our friends at Seriosity have published a white paper on their attention economy.  For those unfamiliar with Seriosity, they have a novel approach for relieving the email overload problem.  Taking cues from the gaming industry, their product introduces a synthetic currency to email that the sender can use to give an indication of message importance.  Here’s the abstract:

“The productivity of information workers is jeopardized by too much e–mail. A proposed solution to e–mail overload is the creation of an economy that uses a scarce synthetic currency that senders can use to signal the importance of information and receivers can use to prioritize messages. A test of the virtual economy with corporate information workers showed that people in a large company used different amounts of the currency when sending e–mail messages, and that the amount of currency attached to messages produced statistically significant differences in how quickly receivers opened the messages. An analysis of the network of virtual currency trades between workers showed the different roles that participants played in the communication network, and showed that relationships defined by currency exchanges uncovered social networks that are not apparent in analyses that only examine the frequency, as opposed to the value of interactions.”

See A marketplace for attention: Responses to a synthetic currency used to signal information importance in e-mail for more detail.