While some have all but written email's obituary, it continues to become clearer that email is not going away. Facebook infamously implied that it was on the way out, yet has done nothing to lend any legitimacy to this.
Google sought to change email forever with the launch of Google Wave. A few weeks ago, the company announced that Wave was being shut down (though some of the technology behind it will likely resurface in other products).
Nobody has ever said that email is perfect. That would simply be false. There is room for improvement, and it looks like Bit.ly (or at least one of its staff members) of all companies may be the next to take on the challenge.
The New York Times ran an article about Bit.ly lead scientist Hilary Mason and her customized email classification system that she has set up for her own personal inbox. It sounds pretty useful, and could appeal to a lot of potential users. The NYT's Nick Bilton writes:
Ms. Mason has built layers on top of her Gmail account that follow a series of rules to correctly prioritize which e-mails she should read first. She calls the program the E-Mail Classifier and has given this little contraption the job of constantly reorganizing her messages like a magician shuffling a deck of cards.
For example, the E-mail Classifier determines if you have e-mailed with Ms. Mason before. If you have, your message is pushed higher up a queue of other new messages. If you both correspond on a regular basis, you travel higher still.
Sender and subject line information are important parts to the algorithm the program uses.
This may or may not be a big release from Bit.ly, but the article says Mason hopes to release the code this fall, so others can use it.
What this really represents to me is that while social media has its value, it is no replacement for email. Here we have a company that is very much based in the social media world, finding ways to enhance their own email experience, as opposed to replacing it.