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April 2nd, 2004


The biggest anti-joke news to come out of April 1st this year was the announcement of Gmail from Google. The reaction was pretty unanimous: there’s no way Google could give every person who signs up a whole gigabyte of space for mail.

But it’s all true, all real, and probably coming soon.

The idea behind Gmail is a solid one: you should never have to throw your email away. I had a discussion regarding this just a few weeks ago at work, when I mentioned that my computer has all emails I’ve ever sent or received since I bought it, in 2001, fully available in Apple Mail. The reaction varied. A few people thought it was fine, just in case I ever needed to look something up; a couple of others weren’t sure about the value of having over three years’ worth of email instantly available.

I’d position it the same way that Gmail is: it’s very handy just in case. Maybe I need to look up how I repaired my computer’s tiny flaw when I first got it – that’s there. Maybe I need to look up Ryan’s address – that’s there now, too. Or maybe I just want to read the first email my wife and I exchanged. That’s there.

The difference between Gmail and an individual’s mail repository is, of course, that one is always online and the other (usually) isn’t. A lot of people trust Google, since they’ve said from day one that one of their missions is, “Don’t be evil.” I think Gmail will provide a real alternative from the crap that is Hotmail, and the not-so-much-crap that is Yahoo! Mail. Plus, you get a whole gig!

Posted in Technology

FROM: Alex
DATE: Friday April 2, 2004 -- 9:25:01 am
I just learned about GMail and I'm excited about it. And it's FREE. I'll sign up as soon as it's released. Hope it has good filters.

FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday April 2, 2004 -- 10:43:57 am
Generally speaking, I believe saving all your email is dangerous. There are a lot of things said in email that you don't want on your permanent record. I take the completely opposite approach. I delete all email by default. I have my mail client set to empty trash on exit. The result is that after 10+ years of email, my archives will still fit on a floppy. When I have an email I want to save long term I save it as a text file.

In the business world, this is particularly important as email is discoverabale in the case of a lawsuit. See various episodes in the Microsoft-Netscape-Sun wars for examples of offhanded our outright humorous emails being being read out of context and used against them in court.

Even in a personal situation, I can imagine a divorse attorney getting your volumeous email archive and using all sorts of things against you.

FROM: Cat [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday April 2, 2004 -- 10:47:12 am
While I'm interested to try it, my whole life philosophy is intertwined with getting rid of clutter--so keeping email isn't my thing. I'll be curious to see if they allow you to have folders at all. If they don't, I think they'll find folks are turned off by the inability to organize. Searching is great, but a mess is a mess.

FROM: Cat [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday April 2, 2004 -- 12:42:20 pm
PS: For me, Google's "don't be evil" ended with the rampant mismanagement I've seen in Orkut. I still like them, but a lot of the trust is gone. I'm all wait-and-see these days.

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday April 2, 2004 -- 6:44:30 pm
I'd definitely be willing to try Gmail, even just to see how the search and storage are implemented. I still trust Google and believe that when they have something that isn't kosher with the community, they tend to fix it.

Something interesting that I learned while reading about Gmail yesterday was that apparently in the mid-90s a huge warez community formed on AOL because if you played your cards right, you could have 40 gigs of storage with a single AOL account (because you could have x number of accounts, each allowing y number of messages, and each message allowing up to a 15 meg attachment). Remember, this was at a time when only high-end systems came with 1 gig drives, so to have access to 40 gigs of virtual storage was pretty amazing.

FROM: Jordan [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday April 25, 2004 -- 2:01:56 pm
Sure they will give you a gig of storge to save emails that are around 25kb but can you recieve big file attachments

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