I stumbled upon an article about Fluent.io, a product in the making by the guys who brought you Google Wave, Google's now discontinued attempt to radically renew collaboration and real time communication on the internet.
After reading the article and watching the promo video, I must say Fluent.io looks promising - I certainly welcome the innovation and any attempt to improve the status quo. Especially the search looks impressive - a feature where the otherwise lovely GMail falls short in ways I can't even begin to describe.
But at the same time I can't help feeling a bit concerned. While there is potential to make using e-mail a smoother, less painful experience, the stream UX is likely to lower the threshold to send short spur of the moment messages, wherein lies a risk of making e-mailing too similar to instant messaging or commenting on Facebook. A trait I feel would be counter productive as that would hardly reduce the number of e-mails received, and I'm sure anyone would agree todays torrential stream of e-mail is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, reasons e-mail is as unusable as it today is in the first place.
The problem would probably not be apparent to the one using Fluent.io, but rather to the one who isn't. Using Fluent.io you will most likely get all the messages intelligently grouped as a single item, perhaps even merging sequential messages for the same subject as a single one, while the one sticking to a non-intelligent client will simply get an inbox full of stub messages. A similar phenomenon probably occurred when GMail gained popularity, but I believe this effect has since diminished by the introduction of integrated Google Talk, as well as the wide adoption of Facebook for inane communication.
But there probably isn't reason for alarm, because there seems to be no plans for a free subscription - who the hell pays for anything anymore these days? Or have you heard of anyone using Flowdock?