OtherInbox eats bacn

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OtherInbox is a slick new service for handling all the email that isn't quite spam, but isn't from a real person either. Bacn is the cute term for all those Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn notifications that you did sign up for, but you also don't care about as much as hand-written emails from your friends. OtherInbox aims to separate the wheat from the chaff by diverting all those automatic messages into their service, where they're organized into a simple interface with rules that understand most of the major senders. For example, you'll see that you have 3 new Twitter followers and 2 LinkedIn requests, rather than seeing them appear as mails scattered through your inbox.

For each organization sending you bacn, you change your email address to <company name>@<your name>.otherinbox.com. Then, instead of checking your email, you can log into OtherInbox and see all your updates at a glance. This should be a real time-saver, since only human emails will pop up in your mail program and grab your attention, and you can just check OtherInbox once a day.

Joshua Baer's been hacking on email for the last 10 years, so it's not surprising he's implementing a lot of cunning ideas through the service. More than just organizing bacn, he's also opening up a geeky practice to the masses; using unique user names to identify mail from different sources. They're scanning list-serv ids to automatically sort mailing lists, and providing RSS feeds of your notifications. There's a few glitches with the beta version, it files mails from my friends at Apple as bacn, but nothing that's more than a inconvenience. Overall, using it has been a very pleasant experience. It's still in private beta, but invite codes are possible to track down. [Update, they've passed along 25 to me here]

The ancient world of email has been drafted for all web services' communications, and that extra load has made it less useful. OtherInbox is a glimpse into a better future, where we have a smarter interface than a raw list of subject lines to help us deal with our messages.

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