Emails I actually look forward to

I’ve been meaning to write a post for the past few months on the select group of things I actually enjoy over email. I still go through 100 or so messages every day and most of them are either things I ignore or things that require attention and work from me, leaving very few that I look forward to and enjoy. I put this post off for so long that Jason Kottke already wrote about one of those beloved emails, the weekly Quora email.

Just to build on what Jason already wrote, by a fluke of weird Facebook integration, I have two separate accounts at Quora (I asked, but they can’t be merged) listed as Matt Haughey and Matthew Haughey, one of those having more of my personal hobbies in the profile. I get two weekly emails instead of one and as a result, I can kind of see what is happening behind the scenes. At least half of the email contents are identical. I suspect they are plucking questions from their popular pile and they’re almost always intriguing. The rest stick to personal subjects and here’s where I am continually impressed. One of my accounts has “cycling” attached to it and I get really niche questions about bike racing, training, and equipment, sometimes with only 1-2 answers and they are fascinating and I’m amazed at how well they are at digging up niche content I want to read about. My other account skews more towards technical web development questions and those are often quite good as well. I’m kind of in awe about how they do so well with an automated message each week, I’d be curious to know what kind of technology and workflow they’ve built to make the weekly emails so good.

The other email I look forward to is a daily digest of links culled from my Twitter followers by Percolate. Here’s what a typical day’s email looks like. I follow about 500 people on Twitter, and this site automatically figures out not just what links my friends talked about the most, but also the most interesting links that only 1 or 2 people linked to from Twitter. I don’t know how they’re doing this on the backend, but since most days I don’t have time to read an entire 24hrs of my timeline at Twitter, this is a nice fall back of interesting links shared by my friends.

Lastly, I like getting Dave Pell’s NextDraft each afternoon. It’s basically a general interest blog (that doesn’t exist as a blog online) delivered by email and it’s a good overview of what the internet is currently interested in and/or freaking out about. There’s also a dose of pop culture stuff I would completely miss otherwise.

Those are the three emails I love getting every so often. I haven’t yet subscribed to Evening Edition or The Brief, even though I’ve heard good things about both summaries-via-email services.