Im moving to Googles Gmail. Its been a week now.
The advantages over Outlook are striking:
1) My email is now stored outside my laptop. This protects me against cataclysmic loss a big benefit because my email file is a good approximation of all the people, projects, and information I need to “keep in mind. What protects me from loss of email protects me from the first enemy of every complex adaptive system, the moment that dynamism tips into disorder, when one missing piece of information cause plates to begin to spin off their sticks, reducing me to a sweating immigrant on Ed Sullivans stage, a grinning, desperate creature who doesnt control the routine or own the plates. (It was a cruel show, when you think about it, reality programming before its time.)
2) My email, as my map of the matters that matter, is more accessible to me when I am out of the house. I can use any computer with almost any operating system. This too is a big “value add. When out of the house, I am often especially needful of orientation. My great grandfather needed a compass. I need my email. It contains almost every name, number, date and address I need, not as a tedious database of “contacts that is ever more voluminous but perpetually incomplete, and always missing the contact I need right now. Unlike “contacts, my Gmail probably contains the datum that sent me out of the house in the first place.
3) The spam problem has been diminished to next to nothing. How much time have we spent getting rid of spam? How many important messages have got lost in this immense shuffle? I dont know, but I would dearly like to bill someone for the loss of time and the damage to my mattering map. More than that, spam was a thicket that stood between me and getting on with the day. As a flow of interrupts over the course of the day, spam exacted a small psychic tax on my ability to concentrate and initiate. Now its gone.
I was slow to move to Gmail. A friend of This Blog Sits At was kind enough to send me an invitation. But I balked. The idea of “paying for Gmail by looking at ads did not sit well. Indeed, as I argued here months ago, ads would contradict the signature look, and one of the real benefits, of the Google proposition: exquisite simplicity.
I was wrong about the ads. They line up politely. No shouting. No music. No special effects. Just a tidy cue. Hands politely raised. Expectant looks, but no remonstrations.
Actually, its better than that. The ads are being generated by Google on the basis of the content of the email. So when I am corresponding with someone about a research project I am doing on commercial ethnography, I actually get ads from the suppliers of commercial ethnography. Useful!
Actually, its better than this. Often the ads have nothing to do with the email at hand. So when I am corresponding with a friend from Montreal, I get ads on pregnancy testing and sail boat equipment.
This is a like the scene in Mars Attacks when, to understand the arriving Martian, the President summons a Professor and his translation machine. For the first few minutes the machines turns Martian speak into the purest poetry. The professor intercedes with a screw driver and before long the Martians are being as discursive and unmistakable as everybody else.
Far from resenting those ads on Gmail, I am now hoping that some will continue to prove evocational and referentially promiscuous. Now, thats a value ad, er, add.
The transition to Gmail is not quite complete. I am using Microsoft Word to write this post, and every time I used the term Gmail, Microsoft marks it as misspelled. Oh, insult to injury! I am now going to teach my spell checker that Gmails a word it must recognize. There.