Artificial Intelligence

Field Note No. 6: Embracing Automation and Collaborating with Computers

Activities for 02/07/2019

Wow, it’s great to be back–or at least it was until I took a look at my email. For this first day back after barely holding it together for two weeks between a campus visit and pneumonia, I’m trying to be optimistic. Today’s activities were primarily catching up on email, email, and more email. ūü§™

Really, that’s all that I’ve been able to do for eight hours straight today. Most of you are acutely aware of how many emails can accumulate in both your personal and professional inboxes over that period of time, and so I know that you have empathy for this situation. While I know that these activities aren’t necessarily the coolest ones to be blogging about, they are important to reflect upon nonetheless.

Analysis

When looking back at today’s activities, I find myself becoming more and more grateful for my technological partners in managing email:

Sanebox: 2 weeks free, and then you have to pay for a subscription. They range from $24 a year to $299 a year depending on how many email accounts you want to connect and which features you decide to use. Because of the multiple different accounts I manage–including a shared family account for taking care of household bills and managing E.–I am in the extreme user category and subscribe to the “Dinner” level. Overall, my experience has been positive: I’m able to set aside two separate moments each day to deal with items that aren’t urgent and once a day to go through my news/advertisement/junk folder to delete what I don’t want to read. It also has become a great way to organize bills that come in for reading once a week and having an archive of receipts for budgeting. Needless-to-say, SaneBox has made it a little less crazy for me in bouncing back after an intense trip for a campus visit and then immediately coming down with a nasty illness right after.

Cloze: $199 a year. It is a relationship management app that lets you see everything about the people, projects, and companies you work¬†with–all in¬†one place–and it reminds you to keep in touch automatically with the folks that you have exchanged emails with or have added to your relationship system. They use Artificial Intelligence to mine your emails for missed opportunities to connect with folks detected in your messages. Their algorithms will also detect missed action items or meetings that may not be reflected on your calendar. My example from today is that if it weren’t for Cloze, I would not have noticed that I needed to catch up with a student who wanted to meet with me regarding working on our project. Her email was buried under many others, and Cloze brought it up to the top since she had mentioned wanting to see me “Friday.” If it weren’t for this app, I probably would have missed out on meeting with her, and she would have felt like I was ignoring her. All around, I consider this a win with Cloze.

Emerging Insights

Yes, I collaborate with computers. Some might say that I’m a cyborg too, and I’m pleased with that being a part of my identity! It might seem like overkill to use a customer relationship management system to manage my relationships as research faculty in a university, but I’ll tell you it is well worth it. As a stereotypical blonde or absent-minded professor (pick whichever one you desire), Cloze has become my best friend for reminding me when I have overlooked an email or put off responding when there was timely information, and SaneBox has lived up to its name in keeping me sane while trying to manage this email backlog. While some of my privacy and security-minded friends have made valid arguments to me about the dangers of leveraging such technology, this is one situation where as a career mom that the cost-benefit analysis of using machine learning rests on the side of benefit.

Resources

  • I really do love using SaneBox! If you want to check it out, click here to get $5.00 of credit toward your subscription after your 2-week free trial. (Note that I will also get $5.00 of credit toward my subscription too when you signing up for a 2-week free trial.)
  • Cloze is a relationship management app that lets you see everything about the people, projects, and companies you work¬†with–all in¬†one place–and it reminds you to keep in touch automatically with the folks that you have exchanged emails with or have added to your relationship system.¬†Here’s a link you can use to get the app: https://cloze.com/app/get¬†