We’re spending the weekend at bumblebeelabs working on a project called dontsendit as part of the Rails Rumble. The concept of dontsendit is very simple: what if we could write emails and set conditions so that they are sent only if you fail to do something? How would that change the dynamics and nuance of email?

As a concept, dontsendit is fairly technically trivial. There’s only 3 major pages and it shouldn’t take more than a few lines of code. Where the real challenge has been for us is that, while it’s easy for us to tell people how it works, it’s been tough to explain what it can do for them. There’s a major cognitive leap from “I have a problem” to “dontsendit is the perfect solution for it” and practically noone can make that leap unaided.

The problem is, dontsendit could be used for potentially quite a number of different things. Some of them more compelling than others. One of the tricky design arguments we’ve been having is whether to go for general but bland (aka: the swiss army knife approach) or specific but opinionated (the scalpel approach). There’s much to be said for both sides which is what makes it a perennial topic for debate but my gut instinct is that general but bland sounds seductive at first but will ultimately fail.

Anyway, keep an eye out for dontsendit.com, the final version should be launching by midnight tomorrow. I wouldn’t try testing it before then unless you want your emails to be publically viewable. It’s still very much a work in progress.

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