Russell Davies: It's unfashionable and caked in spam, but e-mail still rules

Be the first to comment

I woke this morning with that gnawing mix of fear and obligation I get when I can't think what to write for Campaign.

I did my usual morning ablutions, performed the mandated overelaborate artisanal coffee ritual, stepped on my Wi-Fi-enabled bathroom scales, blanched in horror at the read-out and sat down at my computer to check my e-mail. (I know, I know, a terrible way to start the day, but I can't resist it.)

And there, I realised, was what I should write about. Because among all the badly targeted PR spam were all these useful and interesting services that I've gradually been signing up for - services that have realised that e-mail can still be a productive and effective channel.

First, there was an e-mail from Beeminder (odd name, I know, but therefore highly Google-able). Beeminder is a service that tracks your goals and aspirations, and graphs them in motivating and stimulating ways, using lots of clever psychology and elegant stats.

I use it to tell me I'm fat. It extracts data from my scales and sends me an e-mail that puts my weight that morning in a broader, more understandable context that shows me how I'm really doing. That's actually a good thing to get in the morning.

Second, there's Timehop, a daily e-mail that tells me what I was doing a year ago. Timehop has access to many of my social media accounts - Foursquare, Flickr, Twitter - and uses these to give me a picture of myself a year ago. Which is obviously narcissistic twaddle but is also quietly revealing.

Most of the time, it points out how little has changed, which I don't mind too much - life's not too bad at the moment. But, occasionally, it draws me up short and re-minds me of some dramatic moment or other, some life event that makes me think about change and circumstances and the circle of life. That's not a bad thing in the morning either.

Third, there's Sunrise. It's another daily e-mail but one that looks forward rather than back. It has access to my Google Calendar and Facebook and constructs a nice automatic schedule for me for my day.

It tells me what meetings I have and something about the people I'm meeting with. If I had a LinkedIn account, it would use that data, but since I don't, it does its best with Facebook. Again, it's useful and arrives at just the right time. I print it out on a little thermal printer and keep it with me for the day - it's easier than checking my phone all the time.

Just as we start to write a channel off, that's often when it becomes useful again. It's happening with e-mail - I wonder where it'll happen next.


Only £57 for 3 months

Includes every print & iPad edition, plus full access to Campaign online and other Brand Republic sites.


Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Campaign Jobs

Thousands of jobs across advertising, creative, marketing and media

Just published