Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Analyze This: You Wrote How Many Emails This Year?

It’s that looking-back time of year again, when friends post collages of Facebook status updates, calendars of Foursquare check-ins and year-ago-today tweets.

Here’s a year-end recap app that could actually be useful: ToutApp analyzes your email throughout the course of the year and provides data on your busiest month, day of the week and time of day for email exchanges. It also tells you who you email the most, who you receive the most emails from, and which marketers send the most emails.

An application that analyzes your email accounts may seem like a huge waste of time, but the purpose of ToutApp is to make users more aware of what their email patterns are so they could, theoretically, be more efficient with their time. According to Pingdom, 107 trillion emails were sent worldwide last year, up from 90 trillion in 2009; an average of 294 billion emails are sent per day.

ToutApp can take some time to work, depending on the size of your inbox. It took a couple hours for the ToutApp to scan my entire Gmail inbox — around 15,000 emails — and it eventually revealed that I receive more emails than I send. I also learned that January of this year was my busiest month in terms of email traffic (I’m going to unscientifically pin that one on the annual Consumer Electronics Show, which probably upset the average), and that I send the most emails between 8 pm and 9 pm — which makes me a fantastic dinner date. ToutApp also listed individuals as well as circles of people I email with the most, and highlighted key words that often appear in my email.

Some of the data, such as the list of emails from marketers, could be channeled into usefulness. And ToutApp’s analysis says I received hundreds of Facebook notification emails this year, which reminded me that I should probably disable “Notifications,” as that would help declutter my inbox.

But other info — such as the fact that “FW” is a key word that often appears in my emails — didn’t tell me much, except that I get a lot of forwarded mail.

ToutApp only works on Gmail accounts, and in order for it to work, you have to allow it access to your Gmail account. The company is not affiliated with Google, and it says says that during the analysis process it will not have access to your password or any other personal info through your Google account.

Google’s information section on third-party access says the data and activities available to third-party sites, like the ToutApp, depend on the Google product;, some apps may not be able to add or modify data or may be able to see a small portion of data. (To unsubscribe after your ToutApp report is generated, you can go to Authorizing Applications & Sites under the My Account area in Gmail, and revoke access.)

ToutApp comes from a San Francisco-based start-up that offers email management services for business owners. According to its Web site, Tout is backed by venture capitalists Esther Dyson, Dave McClure and Eric Ries, along with other angel investors and seed-stage firms.

If you’re looking for apps that dissect non-Gmail accounts, a research group from the MobiSocial laboratory at Stanford University has created something called MUSE, or Memories Using Email, that works to analyze and chart your exchanges across different email accounts. There’s also something called Topalt Reports for analyzing email through Microsoft Outlook.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus