Outgoing communications filters

08 October 2008

We all know that the connectedness of the modern world means it’s all too easy to communicate with others when we really shouldn’t. A late night at the pub and you suddenly decide it’s a great idea to send an SMS to a friend telling them exactly what you think of them for not returning the book you loaned them two years back. Or what you thought of your manager in your last job… Or an ex…You get the picture, but clearly the potential to wake up the following morning with e-regret is all too real. 
Google has now come up with a solution for its GMail service called Mail Goggles.
 
When you write an email and click “send”, Google will present a dialogue box and give you 60 seconds to solve a series of mathematical problems. Solve the problems in the allotted time, and the email will be sent. Fail and the email won’t.
 
The feature can be set to operate between certain hours on particular days of the week and you can set the difficulty of the problems. In other words, those that are bad at maths still have a chance of sending messages, while the boffins have less chance of outwitting the system when not firing on all mental cylinders. (Click here for a screenshot).
 
We’ve long had filters and aggregators to manipulate and help prioritise the information that we receive from other sources, but now we’ve got filters on our outgoing communications as well.
 
While this is undeniably a gimmicky feature (of potential use to some more than others), it made me wonder what might be on the horizon in terms of tools that filter our interaction with others. After all, if we’ve got to build tools to stop us sending unwanted emails at all hours of the day and night, what’s next?
 
Personally, I’d like to see filters that convert any SMS shorthand in an email back to real text. Or a tool that allows me to type what I want into a Twitter tweet that automatically adjusts my comment to fit the 140 character limit without losing the meaning. Or something that prevents me from selecting “Reply to All” when I mean to hit “Forward”. 
But then again, perhaps there is no substitute for common sense.

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