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October 27, 2005

Thank God for Gmail... But I avoid it

Stephen Baker

When BW Online asked me write a review of Google's Gmail, I immediately thought about all the things I like about the service, especially its gobs of storage. But then I thought: If I like it so much, why don't I use it more? Some would say that the The review outs me as a Luddite. One commenter, "JackLink," writes: "You might as well go back to fax machines, land lines and slate and chalk."

I'm wondering about the demographics of Gmail enthusiasts. Are they younger and/or more tech-oriented than the mainstream? Maybe even the question dates me. After all, the young people I live with chat all the time and barely use e-mail.

10:34 AM

BusinessWeek

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I'm neither younger nor super techie and I swear by it. I like Gmail so much that I've forsaken Outlook. (I've also switched back to Mac after being an original Mac lover in the 80s). What's not to love?! I love the message threading, the folders AND the almost complete lack of spam. Gmail catches almost all of it and routes it immediately to a spam folder. A few niggly concerns about features I want: a global delete for both the spam and trash folders, for example. But I hear that will be in the next release. I just hope they keep giving me more server space.

So there's your review!

Posted by: Debbie Weil at October 27, 2005 12:11 PM

I'm 40 and have been in the software industry my entire adult life. I'm not on the vanguard of tech-change -- I've never really followed slashdot and I don't read Wired, the blogs I read are mostly "lifestyle" blogs rather than technology blogs, and the tech blogs I follow focus more on the social aspects of technology rather than the geek factor.

Posted by: Fritz at October 27, 2005 12:21 PM

I'm 29, and I have a gmail account and it's fine. It's just one of 3 email accounts that I use. While I do like the threading on some emails, it's not that necessary for me. I have a Yahoo!, hotmail (I barely use as it's mostly for when I sign up for things I really don't want to get emails from) and gmail. I don't like the fact that you can't organize anything by folders like you can in Yahoo!. And the spam filter is a bit better than Yahoo! (It seems like anyone's spam filter is better than Hotmail). I like to balance my communications in a spread out way. I also like to read the blogs of my friends and write my own for my friends. But IMing has fallen to the way side as my friends and I have a hard time scheduling when the other is on. Blogging has been much more helpful than email or IMing to keep in touch.

Posted by: Anita at October 27, 2005 02:53 PM

My sense is that the commenters to your review are on point: your review shows a lack of flexibility and a resistance to understanding a new method of organization. That makes me question why you were assigned (or bothered) to write the review, but it does raise a potentially interesting point, and one at which you gesture here: perhaps your reluctance to accept a different paradigm is a shared generational trait.

There are certainly areas in which the interface and even the functionality of the Gmail product could be improved, but that's true of any and every mail client -- and, for that matter, software application. Nevertheless, the willingness to think differently about how we as users manage all these random bits of data (many of which we will likely never need to access again) is an important and much-needed one, and Google has done much to advance the thinking about email (and data storage, more generally) as a concept. To that end, it's unfortunate that your review takes such a narrow-minded approach.

Posted by: matt at October 27, 2005 04:41 PM

Matt, Should we only write reviews of things that we like? I tell people that it has lots of interesting features, and I urge them to try it. So I don't think I'm close-minded.

Posted by: steve baker at October 27, 2005 09:23 PM

The greatest aspect of gmail is that you never waste time thinking if you should delete email or what is the appropriate Outlook folder....Oh yeah "misc". If you ever need to find that email again it is just as easy as typing a few key words into the Google search box.

Posted by: Victor at October 28, 2005 11:54 PM

I'm 16 and a resident of the UK, I couldn't really call myself a tech expert but I'm certainly intrested in tech-based things.

Yes, I talk to all my friends on IM but sometimes thats just not good enough - especially with services like MSN which don't allow you to send offline messages (god knows why) - I find myself still having to send emails to friends when they're offline, or when its something important. I find people tend to glance of IM conversations, closing them without really taking it in however if you know someones taken the time to write an email you can't help but feel you should atleast read it.

I suppose its that you only get what you put in, a strange email karma/effort thing?

Anywho, as for gmail its a brilliant system - its easy to navigate and has heaps of features, much more than products like outlook. Of course being web-based does have draw-backs, it makes it very hard to check emails later when offline or on the road.

Personally though I love the product, although I do keep outlook sync'ing to my gmail account for when I'm on the road ;)

Posted by: kyle lear at May 3, 2006 06:50 AM


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