Would You Crowd-Source Your Email to Save Time?

We're all busy and getting busier, which doesn't fit well with a list of unread email that refuses to stop growing. Now, though, a team of researchers has developed a crowd-sourced email valet system—but would you share your inbox to streamline your life?

New Scientist reports that academics from Stanford University have developed a new system called GmailValet. Using oDesk, a crowd-labour web platform, it draws on a pool of online workers to crunch through your email for you. New Scienitst explains:

Users can deal with privacy fears by deploying filters that limit the access given to oDesk workers. All emails from family members can be excluded from the system, for example... Once the workers are in, they examine new emails and, if appropriate, extract a task from the message, which appears in a to-do list that sits alongside the inbox on the GmailValet website, such as reminding the user to respond to a meeting request, for example.

Initial tests suggest that, even paying online workers the California minimum wage of $8 per hour, such a system could cost each individual customer as little as $1.80 per day. It also paid off for those who trialled it, with their task-completion rate rising from 30 to 60 percent.

The issue remains, however, that you are letting a stranger read your email—and despite the filtering functionality, privacy problems could still easily arise. So the question is: would you ever sign up to a system like this? [New Scientist]