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Supporting Email Workflow

JJ Cadiz, Laura Dabbish, Anoop Gupta, and Gina D. Venolia


As more people use e-mail at home or on the job, more people have come to experience the pain of e-mail that Denning first wrote about 20 years ago [3]. In this paper, we present data from a field study in our own company to add to the existing body of research about how people use e-mail. We then use these data and prior literature to outline a framework of the five main activities that we believe people use e-mail for. In particular, we focus on two activities that we believe have been under-studied: attending to the flow of messages they arrive, and doing “triage” on a body of new messages. In addition, we outline potential design directions for improving the e-mail experience, with a focus on e-mail clients that group messages and their replies together into threads. We present a prototype of such an interface as well as results from a lab study of the prototype.


Publication typeTechReport
InstitutionMicrosoft Research

Newer versions

Gina Danielle Venolia and Carman Neustaedter. Understanding sequence and reply relationships within email conversations: a mixed-model visualization, ACM, 2003.

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