Simon’s Backup Weblog

SNARF your mail

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on December 2, 2005

SNARF looks interesting – a socially-driven mail reading tool that gets its metadata from your mailboxes.

The argument is that most of your day-to-day social interactions are already on your computer – in the shape of address books, in your email and in the documents you create – even in your blogrolls. Why create an expressive XML language like FOAF, when all you need to do is use ambient metadata? Especially when it’s already expressed in a semi-structured form.

Hence SNARF, or the Social Network and Relationship Finder, a tool to help triage your mail.

The SNARF UI is designed to provide a quick overview of unread mail, organized by its importance. The UI shows a series of different panes with unread mail in them; each pane shows a list of authors of messages. Clicking on a name shows all messages involving that person.


SNARF gives the user the freedom to build their own ordering. Each person in their inbox is assigned a set of meta-information: “number of emails sent in the last month,” for example. These metrics can, in turn, be combined to create an ordering across all contacts.

Worth looking at – and reading the papers.

I wonder how it will cope with my several tens of thousands of email messages.


4 Responses to 'SNARF your mail'

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  1. tigerbright said,

    I’d happily try it out if it were usable with something other than MS Outlook… or if I trusted an MS program with my data…

  2. fastfwd said,

    I got half-way through this and then got dizzy. I’m going to try understanding it tomorrow when I’m more awake.:)

  3. andrewducker said,

    Ditto. Looks interesting, but I’m not switching mail clients just to play with it.

  4. anonymous said,

    SNARF is a good idea, but I believe that fighting email overload with technology is doomed to failure. Email programs have not changed much in the past 10 years, so there is definitely plenty room for improvement, but email overload is an extremely individual experience. I don’t want to ramble on here, so if you’re interested, take a look at

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