Google Blogoscoped

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Gmail’s Upcoming Features


Gmail announced the following upcoming features:

Daypop Archives

What was the buzz of the day? You can go back to 2002 and check the new Daypop Archives to find past top blogposts and news.

Gmail Source


The “mother script" frame of Gmail contains an enormous 231KB, with all indenting, line-breaks & comments carefully removed. I’m counting nearly 7,000 rows, containing hundreds of functions. Another frame displays “Loading...” and has a source comment which, quote, “eliminates IE6’s stupid https “insecure content” alert for frames/iframes without a src”.

Gmail Sneak Peak, and Safari


Google published two Gmail sneak peak screens. [Via Mark’s Weblog.]
In the meantime, somewhere else, Google User Interface Engineer Chris Wetherell writes in regards to Safari (the Mozilla-based Mac OS X default browser, which is apparently having some Gmail issues): “Safari compatibility for Gmail is being worked on. That is to say, I’m working on it right this second. I’ve got it mainly working on a local build and am in talks with Apple about the rest...sorry for the delay.”

Google Tests Keyphrase Suggestions

Harry Tzetzos noticed Google sometimes offers keyphrase suggestions. This is similar to the topic clustering Mooter and Vivisimo are doing, but with less emphasis. For example if you enter just “shoes” into Google, it will show the normal result, but similar to a spelling correction ask: did you mean running shoes, rockport shoes, and so on. I could not replicate this behavior at the moment which shows Google is still testing it.

Google and the Global Computer


“Gmail is fascinating to me as a watershed event in the evolution of the internet. In a brilliant Copernican stroke, gmail turns everything on its head, rejecting the personal computer as the center of the computing universe, instead recognizing that applications revolve around the network as the planets revolve around the Sun. But Google and gmail go even further, making the network itself disappear into the universal virtual computer, the internet as operating system.

I’ve been dreaming this dream for years. At my conference on peer-to-peer networking, web services, and distributed computation back in 2001, Clay Shirky, reflecting on “Lessons from Napster”, retold the old story about Thomas J. Watson, founder of the modern IBM. “I see no reason for more than five of these machines in the world,” Watson is reputed to have said. “We now know that he was wrong,” Clay went on. The audience laughed knowingly, thinking of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, of computers deployed worldwide. But then Clay delivered his punch line: “We now know that he overstated the number by four."”
– Tim O’Reilly (Founder and CEO of O’Reilly), The Fuss About Gmail and Privacy: Nine Reasons Why It’s Bogus, Apr. 16, 2004 [Via Battelle.]


Jeremy Zawodny answers:

“Okay, this is getting too stupid. Even Tim O’Reilly seems to be sucked in by Google’s reality distortion field now. I guess they’ve been taking lessons from Steve Jobs, because Tim usually isn’t this easily excited by non-innovation. (Or maybe Tim was an early investor in Google? Anyone know?)” (...)

For god’s sake, it’s web mail with a really big quota!”
– Jeremy Zawodny, Blinded by Gmail’s Gigabyte?, April 16

It’s sort of funny below Zawodny’s post, a little Google-powered ad for a $30 dollar blog hosting service with 100MB of email storage showed up.

Indeed it’s the really big quota, along with a no-nonsense interface, that turned this webmail thing away from being evil. Gmail may not be rocket science, as Zawodny goes on writing, but then again we need simpler solutions, not more complex ones (even though I do believe it takes some clever heads to figure out how to give 1 Gig to the world – or else, I’m sure a lot of people would have already done it).

Google itself was just a search engine when it came along, but its approach was so plain user-oriented and refined that it put itself in a whole different league (of course, PageRank played its part, too).
Which is why back then, I switched from AltaVista and previously Yahoo to Google... and which is why now, I switched from Hotmail (which was my main account) and Yahoo Mail (which I rarely used) to Gmail. The level of trust I hold in Google doing the right thing – that Google’s reality distortion field – just helps to speed up this transition.


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