Slightly off topic, but since there are only two groups of people – those who feel overloaded by the information pouring into their various inboxes and those who prefer to stay offline – an amazing tool to visualise your email inbox might be of interest:
Anymails is an application for Mac OS X which visualises the structure and attributes of an email inbox using the metaphor of microbes. Each email is represented by one animal, each category of emails corresponds to a species of microbes, the status and age of an email is indicated by the size, the number of hair and the velocity of the microbe.
In the beginning all animals are swimming freely. Then you can apply various filters (by category, by status), browse the system in time or visually group animals based on various criteria:
The user can filter emails by species and status. He can fade in or fade out certain species like spam. Or he can make all unread emails visible or invisible. For instance, he can combine these filters to see only emails from school, which are unread.
The user can go back in time to see emails received over the last months or years. He can scroll through the time line to previous inbox conditions. The user can compare different times; he can recognize patterns. When has he received more or less emails? When have more relatives and friends sent emails, when more people from school? When has he responded more or less emails?
Anymails was developed by Carolin Horn from Würzburg between Fall 2006 and Spring 2007 as part of her MFA thesis Natural Metaphor For Information Visuzalization at the Dynamic Media Intitute Boston. The project was coded by Florian Jenett.
(This article originally was written for blognation Germany. Since blognation is gone I have reposted it here)