What if every time someone sent you an email you were automatically provided with a few basic facts about that person as well as links to their profiles on various social media sites? Or consider the reverse: what if someone who receives your emails were able to have that information displayed right in the same window as the content of your message? Depending on your perspective that scenario could be considered amazing or terrifying.
Regardless of how you view this scenario, this is exactly what a Gmail-specific tool called Rapportive does. (I happened to stumble across this tool while checking out Mailplane, of which Meagan Timney provided a nice overview last month.) Rapportive is a free plugin for Firefox, Chrome, or Safari, and it also works with Mailplane.
It’s dead simple to use. After you’ve installed the plugin each Gmail message will be displayed in your browser like this:
In the righthand column, where Google ads would ordinarily be displayed, you’ll see a few bits of basic information about your correspondent, all of it automatically pulled from publicly available online profiles. In the example above, you’re looking at an email I sent to myself. (I didn’t think anyone would appreciate me displaying one of their emails to me.) You can see my current job title—pulled from LinkedIn—as well as links to my profiles on a few sites where I’ve registered an account with this particular email address.
To be honest, I’m not sure how useful this tool would be to me. I’m impressed by its simplicity and by its ability to gather this information so quickly. However, I don’t believe I’ve ever received an email from someone and immediately wanted to know what their Twitter account is, for example. It’s possible I’ll change my mind, but after a couple of weeks of using Rapportive, I haven’t found it to be crucial to my workflow.
How about you?
Have you used Rapportive? Have you found it a useful tool? In what ways? Let’s hear from you in the comments!