As an active Blogger user, I recently got an invitation to test Google's e-mail service called GMail. I have signed up for the service and it will interesting to see how the ads will match the content of the email messages.
The ad feature has stirred up a debate on the Net and several public privacy advocacy groups have complained about how the email messages are "scanned" by Google's search engine robot in order to include relevant ads. Lance Ulanoff's hits the nail on the head and explains why the so-called defenders of personal privacy are screaming in a loud voice:
"What really bothers me is that this is about people's fear. Not of someone invading their privacy, but of yet another technology company becoming too powerful. ... Here's something else to consider: Without those text-based, contextual ads, Gmail will not come with a gigabyte worth of storage space, I can guarantee it. Try and remember, people, there's no such thing as a free lunch. And don't be afraid. Embrace Gmail. I'm a sucker for free e-mail, so I know I will." (Is Gmail Safe?, PC Magazine, 04/21/04.)
Rupert Goodwins must have been doing a SWOT analysis when he wrote the article, Gmail deserves a chance:
"Google is very, very good at finding patterns in large datasets. Gmail will be able to look back in time across millions of inboxes, giving it an unparalleled opportunity to characterise spam and spammers in multiple dimensions. Of course, we can't tell until the system's in use by millions whether things will work out like this, but once again Google has earned the benefit of the doubt. Spam is e-mail's biggest security problem today, and it has the chance of tackling it head-on." (ZDNetUK, 04/21/04.)
Go to the ExtremeTech forum and read Jim Lynch's post, Gmail: Stop the Whining!. Here is an excerpt:
"Guess what, folks--Google doesn't owe you a damn thing. You have absolutely no right to free Web-based mail whatsoever, and you have no right to tell Google how to run its business. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Whining loudly doesn't mean that you will ever have that privilege. Just because you have a sense of entitlement doesn't mean that you are actually entitled to anything. Got that?" (Ziff Davis Media Inc., 04/20/04.)
Rick Bruner (Gmail Me), Jeff Jarvis (GMail hooey), and Tim O'Reilly (The Fuss About Gmail and Privacy: Nine Reasons Why It's Bogus [via About Web Logs]), have some good posts on this topic.
If you want to learn more about GMail, go to Gmail Gems [found via Adam Lasnik's post, Got a Gmail account? Here are a few interesting tricks 'n' tidbits].
Click here if you want to send me a message to my new email address. [Editor: It will be interesting to see how long time it takes before I receive spam...]