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Cc:Betty simplifies, sets sights on automation

Cc:Betty has a cleaner, simpler way to view conversations and sort things like links and attachments. The service is also at work on ways that make it easier to use without having to manually carbon copy it.

Starting Wednesday, e-mail helper Cc:Betty has a new look. It now puts cc'd e-mail conversations in a threaded view, so you can look at past correspondence and catch up quickly. You're also able to sort out messages in each of those threads by person, attachment, and included links using filters that remain on the side of the screen.

The service has taken a similarly simplified approach to viewing both links and e-mail attachments by presenting them as thumbnails. This lets you very quickly parse through attached content without visiting your mail client. And using the aforementioned filters, you can choose to only see things like images, videos, or links from an entire conversation thread.

The simplified view lets you sort by attachment, as well as see items like photos and links with thumbnail previews. Cc:Betty

In a phone interview on Tuesday, Cc:Betty CEO and co-founder Michael Cerda told me the next big step for the service is to make it easier for its users to go through the motions of cc-ing Cc:Betty. Right now you have to do it manually every time you send an e-mail--a move that arguably gives users far more control over which conversations they choose to organize and aggregate, but can be a pain for heavy users.

To alleviate that, Cerda says some automation tools are in the works, such as browser and e-mail client add-ons that should give users the ability to make the cc-ing a part of the usual routine, or to choose which bits they want the service to keep track of.

Cerda also told me that he's looking forward to Google's Wave product since it's putting conversation management in the spotlight. "The Wave is a monster initiative," he said, "but I see us as being a simple, relevant, and invaluable version of what some of that wants to deliver. With the right mashup integration, there's a tremendous opportunity."

Cc:Betty continues to be a free service, although Cerda says that it will eventually get advertising. "We have instincts around (making money). How can we leverage the fact that Betty has a persistent view of all the data that is coming in and out. How do we not screw up the user experience?" he said. "When Gmail came out, and they put ads in it, people kind of freaked out at first, and all the ads aren't that great. There's an opportunity because of all the widespread range of all the data sources. It's not just about text, so we can present things that are potentially valuable for users."

Cerda says that long before ads make their way to the service, he wants to make sure his company gets it just right. And even when ads do arrive, he's not going to use the service to spam people with offers.

"Betty is this trusted persona," Cerda says, "so the last thing we want to do is violate that trust."