Sunday, April 25, 2004

Gmail - First impressions - offsite backups and file transfers and much more .... It's not really email

Gmail - All Mail

Google opened the next level of the Gmail beta to blogger customers. So, I've got mine.

Very impressive. The UI is far snappier than any webmail I've used, faster in some ways than Eudora 6 (which is, admittedly, abysmally slow for a desktop app). Lots of JavaScript. Runs fine in FireFox. Very simple UI of course, but elegant. Very Googleish.

It will come in very handy. I may set up some of my email systems to routinely copy messages to gmail, providing an accessible archive of my email. It will also be heavily used for file transfers. If I want to move a file from one system to another, I'll just sent it to myself. Unlike conventional email, when I send a message to myself via gmail only ONE message is created (not a send and receive message). So Gmail will be a highly efficient mechanism for file transfer and for quick offsite backups.

This is exciting. I'm finding many uses for Gmail in combination with Google's usenet postings and blogger postings. I routinely bcc items to gmail, which is becoming a kind of router for files and messages between services. Everything sits in my inbox, where I can search and sort.

Gmail represents a hard data lock though -- Google owns all the data. If there's anything I do that I don't want to lose, I copy it to my own machines. Increasingly, however, I'm throwing data out in one form or another.

Once Google starts integrating GMail (really threaded messaging > traditional email) with RSS feeds (blogger, blogines) ... Well, it's great to have an exciting and innovative company other than Apple in the world. For all his wealth and power, I wonder if seeing brilliance in other places somehow bugs Bill Gates ... probably not :-).

It's not really email. It's more of a message oriented file system. There's really one container -- the "ALL" container. Instead of "folders" you have "labels" -- which are categories for items. Items can be messages or files with message metadata. Threading provides a secondary way to traverse the file system. Searches are combined with "labels". The quick keys provide a UNIX like experience -- Google's UI paradigm is a cross between UNIX command line and GUI across all their applications.

Very subversive.

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