Victus Spiritus


EPIC, the end of email

12 May 2010

EPIC is a protocol idea outlined briefly below. If people like the idea, I'll work on an alpha form and distributed connection example.

Between many choices we gravitate to what is known

Familiarity is a core component of our decision making process. Everything else being equal, behaviorial bias defaults to the known quantity. It's a function of our potent pattern matching capability using the massively parallel difference filter of our minds.

This bias towards the known, can create a form of behavior inertia that leads to habits in activity, brand loyalty, businesses we partner with, exercise regimines, and our diets. These ingrained habits need to cause an exceptional amount of frustration or pain before we're willing to even consider let alone try alternatives.

I've chosen a couple of well known bloggers recent posts to review a case of familiarity bias, and offer a potential solution to their dilemma. Both Fred Wilson and Mark Suster describe how they both have become prisoners to their inboxes but can't imagine living without email. It's important to both of these VCs to send a signal of availability to potential partners both known and unknown. Commenters suggested human filtering (an assistant) but this method appears to send a signal of remoteness, or superiority which these gents are unwilling to accept. In addition there is a great amount of trust and style that is best personalized by oneself when it comes to communication.

EPIC - Easy Protocol In Communication

The optimal filtering framework to improve email quality is a distributed moderation system. Spammers can be identified rapidly and have very little ability to contact anyone without building up reputation in the proper netwoks. For private one to one messaging, a reputation and token based message network would function through an attention based currency. Limited availability and perhaps duration contact tokens are earned by trusted connections. Users with a high reputation (approval by those they communicate with regularly) can get single access temporary tokens, which a message recipient can then elevate with one, a few, a regular alotment, or unlimited contact tokens at any time. This form of artificial scarcity is designed to protect the attention of high bandwidth recpients or social/buiness network nodes. In addition trusted contacts can provide one time introduction and access at the cost of one of their own available tokens. This process leverages the strength of group social filtering. This type of system will vastly reduce noise as well as frivolous messages, while boosting the quality of desirable messages. An upper limit on message length per token may make sense for unknown or first time contacts to minimize the email inbox trap, or instead a brief title length intro to capture the interest of the reader to determing if further reading and action are warranted.

The problem with EPIC is that it's scary for people to switch over to. The known messaging channel of email has dominated electronic communication for over a decade now. That habit has locked on to the minds of very sharp and savy people. It will take leaders and trend setters to break out of the familiar inbox trap. They'll be motivated by desparation, and it's up to folks like you and me that believe we can offer a better alternative to lead another communication revolution.