Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Tagging Emails

In the New Year, the dp team is hoping to launch a small pilot project in collaboration with the university's IT sector. The project will focus on finding ways to classify emails in order to separate business emails from non-business emails and append retention rules so that they can be managed properly and those of long-term value be preserved for future researchers.

For classifying or organizing email inboxes, we're considering 2 approaches:
  1. Create new folders and sub-folders in user's inbox into which they click and drag business emails into appropriate folders;
  2. Adopt a tagging approach in which users tag or label emails with business value with distinct terms such as Personnel, Financial, Student, etc.
We're hoping to implement these approaches in 2-3 university units, both administrative and academic.

This pilot project is in fact a research project. We'll be testing and analyzing hard results. We'll audit email records users send us. And we'll move forward from there, correcting what doesn't work and enhancing what does.

This is our first foray into a concrete email management program. We are not considering an enterprise-wide email management software solution just yet. We really want people on campus--staff, faculty, administrators--to begin to think a little differently about emails and electronic correspondence, to see them as equally valuable as paper memos from days gone by.

It's about change management first. Then it's about email management.

For preserving emails (the big long-term issue), we're considering converting emails to XML. With its structured appearance, emails seem to be a perfect fit for XML. According to some of the university technologists I spoke with, there should be not much trouble in converting emails to XML, at least technically speaking. The real issue is to make sure the right emails (i.e. the classified emails) are preserved and transferred to the university archives' planned long-term storage servers, while the junk, the miscellaneous, the spam are deleted permanently.

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I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

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