Seems that me and about a million other Bloggers got in on the GMail beta. It’s neat, but I need to try and actually use it some, so here goes:

This is twofold – first to see if anyone wants to GMail me (great, another verb from Google) and to see if the Spam Filter is really all that great.

I’d normally have about five pages worth of blather here about GMail, but it’s been done elsewhere (try Slashdot) so I’ll be brief. The big advantage to GMail is that it offers you a gigabyte of space for free. Whereas Hotmail charges for more than like 2MB, GMail gives you ~500x more for free.

I never delete email (except for spam) ever. I have an outlook.pst file that has correspondence dating back to 1999 which has been travelling with me from reformat to reformat. It’s somewhere in the neighboorhood of 300-400MB. With hard drive space being so cheap and me being a packrat, I haven’t cared.

Hotmail has always served the purpose to me of being a “spam tarpit” – that is, when I sign up for something and I don’t want to give them my “real” email address, I give them my Hotmail address (though I’m not sure why – it’s not like I’m not already being spammed). I go and check it once a month at least (lest it gets shut down, which happens sometimes) and clean it out for shits. To Hotmail’s credit, the spam prevention’s gotten really good as of late – perhaps too good, but I don’t really “use” it, so I can’t vouch for it.

But it occurs to me – prior to Google coming out (and getting really good) the Internet was this sorta useful thing that could give you good information, provided you were determined enough to search for it. The “popular search engine” changed from time to time – Webcrawler, Yahoo, AltaVista, Hotbot, etc., but essentially you needed to search them all and wade through a lot of crap to find anything useful. The geeks on the whole didn’t mind – searching for hours to find the ultimate Quake site had a sense of accomplishment to it – but it wasn’t too practical.

Google changed all of that. I’m not going to say it’s perfect and infallible, but Google has turned the Internet into a useful tool. Google has become a verb (something Yahoo would kill for, something ICQ used to be). Google has made the printed Encyclopedia obsolete, made the Libraries of the world desolate, and made productivity go up. The Internet is now useful.

So we have web-based email, and have had for years now. It’s always been this kinda-neat thing and if you didn’t take your email too seriously it could be your main use of email. But for serious email, it’s never been that useful. But now since you could house some ten years worth of email on their servers, perhaps Google’s GMail will make Internet Email useful. It’s done this sort of thing before.

The beta is expected to go on for six months. This should prove interesting.