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> Email seems to carry the notion of importance, which is not true of chat messages I think. The reasoning behind this is, I think, an incoming email stands alone, whereas a chat message is quickly surrounded by other messages.

This is critical. Understandably, "chat" user interfaces don't make individual messages stand out by themselves. This means that it is easy to miss a message, or even a conversation. It also means that you can't delete everything but the important stuff you need to reply to, which is trivial in email clients.

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