Friday, December 14, 2007

Can a mega-company like Google rewire our brains?

A few years ago I switched over to Gmail from AOL and have never looked back. I love the friendly interface, the nearly-infinite storage, the ever-expanding address book, and on and on it goes. It took some getting used to after I had been with AOL for so long. In particular I had to adjust to the lack of buckets and folders in which I was used to grouping my emails.

I am a file fanatic. I like being able to pull a folder on a topic and seeing everything I have on the subject. Doesn’t happen with Google. Instead, it has a robust search function that will pull up every email I have that contains a keyword I type in. It’s forced me to be very deliberate in how I select email titles so that I can easily recall them later on. The trouble with this is I have had to become a synonym expert. For example, if I want to pull up all of my emails relating to “being green”, I may need to search “sustainability”, “eco-friendly”, “environment”, etc. If I had a folder entitled “green”, I could drop them all in there and pull them in one swoop!

Gmail’s search function has forced into a few work-arounds. I am considering starting a business, so I’ve created a new Gmail account of emails that just relate to the business idea. I’ve also become more addicted to blog posting so I’ve started emailing to a new account about everything I need to post on my blog. For the truly important topics like these, I’m still finding that my buckets are necessary.

While I love the idea of a way to simplify and reduce the amount of filing, bookmarking, and flagging I need to do, a certain amount of it may be so deeply entrenched in my behavior patterns that it will be tough to shake! More food for thought for the talented folks at Google to consider in their quest for continuous improvement.


Swiss said...

Gmail integrates nicely with the Mac OS based email software: Mail app. in which you can create smart folders which dynamically update based on the search criteria you've previously defined.

Like this you can keep all your email in your inbox and simultaneously have "boxes" for specific themes.

Christa said...

How cool!! Thanks for the info Swiss! More proof that I need to "go mac" :) Thanks for reading.