I heard a complaint yesterday evening that struck me as very "2005", but I have to remind myself that I'm partly to blame for any lingering ignorance out there in the world about SPAM...that's right, I'm talking email here, and I'm looking at you LJB.
It may be that email and the internet were not what William Blake had in mind when he wrote about "innocence and experience", but I can say without reservation that my life was markedly different before and after gMail.
Oh, I had a Hotmail account. I had an iName account. I had a Yahoo! account, and prior to gMail I thought Yahoo! was the bomb...but on or about September 22, 2004, I went "live" on gMail and since then, well:
- i haven't worried about storage for my email.
- "You are currently using 1730 MB (22%) of your 7532 MB."
- I have 10828 messages in my inbox (messages that I want to keep)
- and they are all easily and instantly searchable
- i didn't "index" or "tag" or "sort" any of them, but i can find messages about anything, from anybody, in seconds
- i haven't worried about SPAM in years
- gMail automatically screens out the vast majority of SPAM messages
- their built in screeners have improved year after year
- when i create an account that requires i share an email address with some web merchant, i add a "filter" that sends their marketing past my inbox to a folder labeled "subscribed SPAM" - I never see it unless I want to
- gMail serves as the core of a full suite of complementary services that i use all the time
- calendar (as many separate calendars as I like; one to share with my wife, on for work, etc)
- docs - a full suite of productivity software (all web based) including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation slides, drawing...again, all shareable across the web, allowing multiple users to see and/or edit IN REAL TIME
- all of these productivity tools were in "the cloud" before people were even talking about the cloud. I can access my documents/calendars/etc anywhere with internet access, on any machine (my mom's laptop, my phone, internet cafes, etc)
- voice - a new phone number (it will rule them all, and in the darkness bind them)
- free text messaging (from your mobile phone OR PC)
- "visual" voicemail and transcriptions
- VOIP calls over your internet connection, from your mobile or PC
- the chat function in gMail is awesome, and the system automatically saves transcripts from chats for the same "searchable anytime" functionality
- i use Blogger for this very blog...
What are the down sides? Well, Google could shut it off. They could turn out to be "evil". They could use my information to market to me more effectively. I recommend as safeguards against these bad case scenarios is the occasional offline back-up of important data saved to Google Docs. That's about it.
Don't believe that all web-based email services are the same. Embrace the Goog.