So the long and short of it is, I’m loading all the email I receive into a database using a fun combination of Procmail, Spam Assassin, and a sprinkling of command line PHP. I’m very excited about this, more excited than I’ve been about a new project in a while. For me, email has been steadily waning in utility for the past year, and I want to breathe new life into it. I’m tired of folders. I’m tired of slow searching. I don’t want to hand my email over to someone else, even if it’s Google. I don’t want to deal with mbox or IMAP or maildir or any of that junk. Those are implementation details of various servers and clients.
Mirroring my email into a MySQL database has some interesting ramifications. Imagine instant Gmail-type searching using FULLTEXT or LIKE. Imagine instant email backup using MySQL replication. Think email RSS feeds, keyed on searches or senders or anything. Don’t forget the interesting metrics that can be extracted from this as well. Right now I’ve replaced my timely dozen with an counter running since this morning. If you send me an email, you’ll see it increment live. If it increments the spam counter you may want to resend it and reword your mortgage suggestion. This is the most basic of a hundred interesting things that can be culled from this data.
I want to hear your wildest dreams. Besides the obvious search, backup, and statistics benefits, what can you imagine this system doing? What would you like email to address? (groan…) What email metadata is interesting? (I’m currently tracking subject, date sent, date received, from, the message itself, and spam status.) What statistics would be interesting to you? Is anyone even interested in this or am I just spinning my wheels?
Today my mail lives in 400 MB of mbox folders I access using IMAP. Tomorrow I want something better.