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March 8, 2006

Marissa Mayer prefers Pine to Gmail

[mayer]Marissa Mayer, VP, Search Products and User Experience at Google confesses to CNN Money that she doesn't use Gmail for her business mail.

"I don't feel overwhelmed with information. I really like it. I use Gmail for my personal e-mail -- 15 to 20 e-mails a day -- but on my work e-mail I get as many as 700 to 800 a day, so I need something really fast. I use an e-mail application called Pine, a Linux-based utility I started using in college. It's a very simple text-based mailer in a crunchy little terminal window with Courier fonts. I do marathon e-mail catch-up sessions, sometimes on a Saturday or Sunday. I'll just sit down and do e-mail for ten to 14 hours straight."

Pine is a mail program developed at the University of Washington. It has a lot of keyboard shortcuts and countless ways to sort, shuffle, and sift through your email.

People often talk about Mayer as the pinnacle of work ethic, but it often sounds to me like she needs more "work smarter, not harder". 10-14 hours of email once a week sounds like a remarkably bad idea to me.

(Yes, I know she's also phenomenally successful, but so are MANY more people that don't share her methods)

"People often talk about Mayer as the pinnacle of work ethic"

Not this guy, who worked at Google from the start:


I don't think if you work like crazy 24-7 there's any "ethic" in it. I'd say it's more of some sort of morbidness. Human beings are not meant to live this way, and exemplifying such an attitude really makes a perverse and toxic culture.

Pine was the defacto email client for so many universities (including mine); these kids today don't know what they were missing! It was a rare window of human Time On Earth where every single person at my massive nearly 100K-size college used Control-X to send every email.

10 to 14 hours of email? I think I'd pull a Knuth or look for another job, that's crazy.

Her compensation was $117 million over 5 years.


I'm sorry -- what do you mean by "pull a Knuth"?

He processes mail by stack: have his secretary print out emails and put them together with snail mail on a stack. Look at the stack every few months.

Urgent mail is expedited at his secretary's discretion, of course.

This requires a secretary (or at least an AI that's able to prioritize as well as a human). GMail is getting there by filtering out obvious cruft (spam filtering, flagging as important, moving social and promotional emails into their own tabs, etc), but falls down in terms of prioritizing non-obvious cruft.

Interesting read, thank you!

Linus Torvalds uses Pine, too.

        From: Linus Torvalds <torvalds@linux-foundation.org>
        Newsgroups: fa.linux.kernel
        Subject: Re: [git pull][resend] Input updates for 2.6.22-rc7
        Date: Fri, 06 Jul 2007 01:11:27 UTC
        Message-ID: <fa.IgmANxZoEvqGUWkoZEe414vIYlQ@ifi.uio.no>

        On Fri, 6 Jul 2007, Jesper Juhl wrote:
        > > I'm constantly surprised by just how _many_ ways MUA's find to screw up.
        > 'pine' actually seems to work pretty damn well once you disable the
        > flowed-text "feature".

        Yes. And 'alpine', it's modern version, does even better, but you also
        need to make sure to disable "downgrade-multipart-to-text".

        I've been using alpine for a while now, and it's nice to see it be utf-8
        capable and able to handle other charsets well.

        So as a former pine user, I can recommend upgrading.


Recently he has been using gmail

Oh yeah, I had an MS-DOS build of PINE that got me through uni. After loading the packet drivers, I had just enough conventional memory to load the mail client as well. Good times.

She should have been using (n)mh.

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