Cover photo for Kerry Ivan Kurian

Email again?

Kerry Ivan Kurian
Welcome to my presence on I've been longing for a high-integrity social media platform that puts exactly nothing between us. And here it is. No advertisers. No algorithms. No artificial limitations. No jargon (toots? servers?).

It's just us here.

This is amazing. Deeply, truly amazing.

And it presents us with a problem: Since we're not together in real life, we need some way of signaling each other. Otherwise it's just me typing into a void hoping you'll eventually drop by to read.

The only practical solution? Email. That shitty, black hole of communication.

Here's how it works: I author a post. The application emails you. I pray to the universe that my email hasn't interrupted your focus time, your time with a loved one, or the like. I hope that we don't lose touch because my email gets buried under all the other shit emails you get from hucksters, generic mailing lists, and so on. 

Yes, after all these years, that's the best that we've got: email.
In an attempt to work more effectively, we've accidentally deployed an inhumane way to collaborate

– Cal Newport, E-mail is making us miserable
10 years ago, while doing a heavy dose of customer development work related to people's usage of email, I discovered something that at the time I found profoundly discouraging as an entrepreneur: Yes, everyone agreed that email was shit. But everyone had their own way of using it, their own preferences.

I had wanted to find a big problem and some broad agreement on a potential solution, so that I could point to a Big Opportunity™. Instead, I found... people, and all their individual preferences.

I didn't have the heart at the time to understand what I was seeing.

People spending time together with awareness, integrity and love is the ultimate positive sum game. Paraphrasing Ram Dass: Everyone knows this, even if they don't know that they know.

As we try to claw our way out of social media silos built for the benefit of someone other than the users, we find this: There exists no online communication platform built in the spirit of awareness, integrity and love, with a mechanism for respecting an individual's preferences at the primary position of control.

Some services build in controls for personal preferences, sure. But no communication platform does. And because of this, no matter how calmly services attempt to communicate with their users, when those services employ a communication platform (like email) those communications collide with a mass of garbage from the user's perspective.

Some services, like Hey and Google's Priority Inbox, attempt to address this problem at the destination: Your inbox has received all this unsorted stuff, let's try to sort it out. This is a sensible approach if you're trying to build a solution with mass-market potential right out of the gate.


I'd like to see a solution that addresses the problem at the source. I wonder:  Would we, the producers of technology, be willing to embrace giving up control of message delivery so that our user's preferences are put first? Could calm producers of technology ally with a group of calm companies to create a new communications platform that puts user preferences first? And how far could we go in bringing more traditional companies into the fold? Could a calm communication platform go mainstream for once?
If a mainstream calm communication platform existed then we could have all the toys. Have your instagrams, have your tiktoks, sign up for political fundraising services... do all the things... knowing that you'll be able to stay in the loop without being blown up with push notifications and interrupts, ever.

One set of fine-grained, application-agnostic communication preferences to rule them all.

Does this ring any bells for you? Schedule a meeting with me on Fantastical. Let's talk.

(Written at Narrative Coffee in Bellingham, Washington, USA)