Tempo & Superhuman

I just saw this blog post gushing praise on a new email client I’d never seen before. I was able to Google it. Tempo. I gave it a spin. It’s classy.

It’s also really really super similar to Superhuman. Not only in look, but the fact that they want to charge monthly/yearly to use the client (which is a UI on top of Gmail only). The similarities are pretty striking there – something must be going on like someone dipped out of one company to start the other or something like that.

Superhuman got tangled up in some controversy at one point. Something about that made me on edge while installing Tempo, and sure enough, something weird happened:

So this email client runs a local server on my computer. I have no idea what it does but that seems weird. When I quit the app, the server turns off though.

Aside from all that, personally, I don’t need a super minimal focus-based email client. Every time I switch, I find myself back on the web interface for Gmail. Although at the moment I’m still enjoying using it through Mailplane.

That thing where you do little fake blockquotes to respond to parts of an email.

It makes for good structure sometimes, don’t you think?

I find it fairly common that emails mix in questions and things to respond to throughout the email in order to sound, ya know, human and friendly. That’s at the cost to structure, so sometimes in a reply you have to force some structure so that it’s clear exactly what parts you are responding to. I find the > character often enough for that as long as there is whitespace around it, but you could always apply bold or color or something to force a bit more structure.

Join my Slack? Uhm Nah.

Just heard a story from a friend where they got a message over LinkedIn via their internal messaging system that they actually felt compelled to respond to (I know). My friend didn’t want to actually talk over LinkedIn messages, so she said “how about we move this to email?”.

I’ve done this a handful of times myself, literally with LinkedIn. Chances are what comes in over LinkedIn is pure garbage.

100% of this is garbage

But in the rare case you get an interesting message, moving it to email immediately is a fair move.

But instead of the person my friend was talking to saying “sure, that sounds good, I’ll email you.” they said “here’s an invitation to our Slack workplace.” Oh, sure, of course, would you like to crawl inside my shirt with me too? lolz.

I’m sure some people are all loosey goosey with their Slacks, but not most of us. Slack is sacred ground. Slack is almost more personal than giving out our phone number.

The worst thing though is that they ignored her ask. That’s like ok bye bye territory for me.

What it reminded me of though is grocery stores.

I don’t know how popular this still is, but at one point in my life, every grocery story I ever went to wanted to make sure I had a little keychain plastic dongle thingy.

A “discount card” the one above is called. I’m not convinced they actually did anything useful for me. It felt more like a system for tracking shoppers to gain data about buying patterns. But it had another benefit to the store. If I actually put this thing on my keys, that means that, even inadvertently, I’m looking at their logo probably dozens of times a day. The branding is burning into my mind. What store am I going to go to? Some random one or the one that is burned into my mind?

That’s what the “join my Slack” thing feels like. Sure, I could send you an email, but even better, let me put my logo into the ever-present sidebar of an app you use all day long.

“Hey Sarah,”

If I really want to deal with an email (that I’ve already mentally accepted) but I haven’t quite digested it all yet and I’m not sure what I want to say, I’ll open it up and just type out with my fingers the salutation.

Hey Deja,

Sometimes that’s enough to get me focused and thinking about what to say. A little icebreaker for the fingers.

And sometimes I give up, but hey next time I attempt it at least the salutation is done.

“Mentally Declined”

There is a delta between your brain deciding about something in an email, and you actually dealing with that email. Shortening that gap is a good idea.

I imagine DHH is talking about email because Basecamp announced they are getting into the email app game with HEY.

Anna Belle’s Skillful Email

Anna Belle:

I began using email in the early days — around 1989.  It was fun, a bit like secret notes passed under a teacher’s nose. But then in 1992, I met its dark side.  First came listserv flame wars, then conversations that in hindsight were clearly too personal, next time-consuming avalanches in my inbox (over 100 per day at one point), and, ultimately, receiving hateful emails aimed directly at me.

While I’ve never sent any hateful emails, I’m embarrassed to say that early on I sent some that may well have hurt the recipients.  Certainly I was unskillful.

The net result was for 25 years I was afraid, at points even terrified, of opening email each day.

25 years! Terrified of email! I’m so glad Anna is confronting this fear and funneling it into self betterment by way of a guide. Feels like PTSD in a way, like a soldier in a war coming to terms with the fact that they harmed people, or may have, although I can’t imagine someone this positively self-reflective ever doing anything that bad.

Some tidbits from the guide:

As I open my email client, I use the few seconds it takes to collect myself and recall the humanity that lurks behind this impersonal facade.

Because most people are busy, I am as brief as possible (without sacrificing connection and helpfulness).

Once a day, go through “Top Priority”; respond in a timely fashion.

Let it speak for itself.

I think it’s a bit awkward for a cold-call email to open with telling me how awesome you are.

You probably are. You’re probably more successful than me. You’re probably smarter and richer and more innovative. But telling me that puts me on guard. Now I’m all like ok whatever good for you.

This particular email went on to tell me about an article one of their employees wrote that they think is good and wanted to share. I can’t go into it fresh anymore. I read the article, but it was tainted by me thinking about how awesome they think they are and all my mind could do was be critical about it. My bet is that if I went into it without all the pomp, I would have been way more open to the concepts in it.