Thursday, June 17, 2004


An interesting experiment, this.

What do you call a convenient, web based email account with the ability to search and filter email with all the accuracy and precision of the web's greatest search engine, and so much storage you never have to delete an email message?

Email, google style.

at you can get an email account, if you're lucky enough to have an invitation, which does just that. This new email service has sparked a lot of controversy though from privacy advocates. One of the premises of google's email service is that it scans your emails and presents ads to the right side that are relevant to the particular email you're reading. Some people are concerned this could lead to information on your private thoughts and messages being sold to other companies. While google has long promised to 'do no evil', can they be trused with this kind of personal information?

I say yes. When you consider that all email is already pre scanned before you read it, or at least can be, does it seem so bad for a company who openly and honestly declares their intent to do so?

After all, email is already pre scanned for viruses by most email servers. Then Pre-scanned word by word to determine the contents of the message. Didn't realize this happened to your mail? How else do you think yahoo or hotmail or ABC email host determines what messages go into your junk mail folder?

And your work email gets even less privacy. Employers have the right to actively scan and read your company email at will, and many do so regularly. Information in these emails can and has been used to fire people.

Is loss of job not a bigger hazzard than being forced to view ads which you might actually want to see, placed just out of the way of your main email window?

The interface google uses seems much more advanced than that of most web mail hosts. I find it to be much faster than any other webmail host I've used because it actually uses an activex script, so much of the work is actually done on your PC rather than on the web server then sent back and forth.

While I was a bit worried at first that there were no folders to organize my messages into, I found the 'label' feature to work as well, if not better. While it gives you the same concept of organizing all mail from one subject into a category, it also allows you to have more than one label assigned to any given email. This way, if I get an email which contains information about my vacation time at work, I could label it as both business and personal since it does pertain to both.

Also, gmail sorts email into threads, or conversations. This means if I've got an ongoing conversation with someone or a group of someones on the same topic, replying to the same original message, it shows just the topic, and as I click on it I can see all the messages, in order, that are part of the thread.

While Gmail is currently available by invitation only, and in testing, I think it's ready for prime time. I've submitted a few suggestions, but I can't think of any missing must have features. Want a gmail account? You can beg for an invite at, or ask someone you know has gmail to invite you.

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