It's not you, it's filter failure.
A hand handling a transparent glass filter

Do you feel overwhelmed when opening your inbox? The issue extends beyond traditional spam.

From poorly targeted marketing to excessively frequent newsletters and unwanted automated subscriptions, we understand that your email frustrations go beyond the usual annoyances.

The concept of "It's not information overload, it's filter failure" articulated by Clay Shirky in 2008, emphasizes the challenge of managing the growing amount of information available to us. Shirky's hypothesis is that the problem isn't the quantity of information but our inability to filter it effectively. As the volume of information increases, our need to develop smarter filters becomes essential to avoid being overwhelmed.

For instance, when searching for restaurants in a new city, we rely on various filters to narrow down the overwhelming number of options provided by search engines. These filters might include Google's first page results, focusing on specific neighborhoods, or selecting restaurants of a certain type. This process of filtering helps us manage the deluge of information effectively.

In the realm of document and information management, filters are crucial. Popular documents or sites are easier to find due to existing filters based on popularity. However, the demand for niche products and services is growing, necessitating more refined filtering mechanisms​.

In professional environments like law firms, the information needs are diverse, leading to a vast majority of unique retrieval requests. This diversity underscores the importance of having sophisticated filters to connect users with the specific information they need.

Chris Anderson's concept of "The Long Tail" further explains this phenomenon. He highlights how filters on the web sift through a multitude of options to present the most relevant choices to users. This concept is evident in online retail, where the economics of product sales have shifted significantly. Niche products, which would have struggled to find shelf space in traditional retail, now find a market online. Amazon and Netflix, for example, have capitalized on this by turning niche products into profitable ventures despite their small individual sales numbers.

The need for powerful filters is also evident in the context of search queries within organizations. A "short head" of frequent queries can be managed through "best bets" functionality, but there is also a "long tail" of unique and semi-unique queries. As users navigate this long tail, the signal-to-noise ratio worsens, emphasizing the need for more potent filters. These filters help minimize noise and focus on specific criteria like document type or date to find the required information.

In practice, organizations use a range of filters, including DIY filters that leverage embedded expertise and expert network filters that rely on specialized knowledge to guide searches. This approach helps sift through vast amounts of information to find what is most relevant and necessary.

However, as the volume of information continues to grow, the requirement for more powerful filters becomes increasingly urgent. This is exemplified in the context of social media platforms like Twitter, where ineffective filters can lead to an overwhelming experience. In such scenarios, creative and sophisticated filtering becomes crucial to manage the information effectively and avoid being overwhelmed.

Here at Empty Canvas, we have built noise-canceling filter for your email.

Create your custom AI filter for email.

Empty will prevent noise being delivered to your inbox.

Create your custom AI filter for email.