Jay: An Email Assistant for MIT Students

by Tina Quach for CMS.609 Word Made Digital

This week, we were tasked with creating an interactive text. Many of the interactive texts that we explored in the class were games such as A Silent Conversation and Today I Die. As I thought about what I wanted to do for this project, I thought about one of my favorite games, Tetris. I could imagine words endlessly appearing and the need to combine them in ways that constituted some literary form of "Tetris". This could be a whole set of literary devices that could be identified from text. Maybe it could be a few set types that we could count--such as similes (whose form is easy to detect).

Anyway, based on in-class conversation, I decided to reframe my interactive text project to focus on email. Like the blocks in tetris, emails just keep coming--even when you've just cleared all the blocks in a beautiful Tetris (analogous to hitting "Inbox Zero"). Rather than design and implement a visual, Tetris-like interface for my first iteration of this idea, I focused on working with the email text and working with the user's real emails. My aim was to emphasize the workflow of going through emails and emphasize the stress that comes along with the dealing with large amounts as well as discriminating between which emails to engage with and which to ignore, or worse, delete.

The result is Jay, an email assistant for MIT Students. Jay is implemented as a python script that given your email account information, will search for emails that match specific filters, classified as types. In my current implementation, these include: ec-discuss, eecs-jobs-announce, and Piazza. The experience of interacting with Jay is similar to a text adventure in whcih you can respond or explore in different ways--deleting emails, replying to emails, checking your inbox, and reading emails. Depending on what action you take with which emails, your inbox gets affected. Try it out for yourself by downloading the script below! Feel free to take a peek at the code

Python Script 1: email_terminal.py

Looking forward into the next iteration, I've been inspired by the feedback from my classmates and professor. If you have additional feedback for me, please email me at quacht@mit.edu.

For more see Tina's Word Made Digital portfolio