India Uncut

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Celebrating Gmail

I'm a huge fan of Gmail. I was slow to convert because of that thing called the ego -- I wasn't in any of the early batches of invitees, and felt left out and offended. But sometime around the middle of last year I got an invite, got hooked, and have stopped using all other email since. What do I like about it?

Well, the storage, hyped up though it is, is just a small part of the attraction. The things I like about Gmail:

1] The conversation view: This is huge. Earlier an email conversation involving a few people and many iterations could involve hundreds of emails, all of which stacked up in the inbox, required many clicks to view, and were confusing to follow. With Gmail, it's all there on one page, in an easy-to-use interface. In fact, this is what makes Gmail unique (so far), and gives it an extra dimension.

2] The labels: This is a vast improvement on the folder system that other email providers have. In a folder system, I put an email into a folder and it's disappeared there, out of the inbox, and it is then restricted to that space. But conversations are dynamic, evolving things, and cannot often be classified into just one category. Gmail allows me to attach multiple labels to a conversation while keeping it in the inbox, and I can, thus, access it later in a variety of ways.

3] The search: Yes, yes, I know other email providers also have their own search thingies, but they aren't remotely as good as these guys. This functionality, combined with the use of labels, has led to my using Gmail as a storage facility for research material and interesting links or articles I find on the web.

I could go on and on about the many little things that have impressed me so much, like how fast it is and so on, but I'll just urge you to try it out for yourself, if you haven't already. I like it so much that I have, in fact, configured one of my Gmail accounts for use as my office mail, and find it far easier to handle spam and keep track of evolving conversations involving hundreds of threads than my colleagues do. And it's easy to configure it in such a way that your gmail address is never displayed, only your office id is.

And why am I blogging about Gmail today? Well, I came across this nice post by Paul Buchheit, the man behind Gmail, on email in general and his creation in particular. Good stuff.
amit varma, 11:31 AM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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