Conversation, Gmail

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-04-23 Print this article Print

-Style"> It was interesting to me that you did finally hit on the word conversation. It seems to me that theres a synergy between the elements of the conversation in the RSS space and what youre doing in the e-mail space.
I think thats very true. Part of the things weve seen why blogs and RSS feeds are such a success is that you can actually read it—you dont have to stop, click back and forth, collect bits and pieces here and there—but it is all presented to you as one.
And thats what weve aimed for in the conversations as well, because I dont want to have to hunt and peck around to get the different pieces of the same conversation. I want to be able to see it all at once. Contrast the dynamics of e-mail, given that its a fire hose of not necessarily welcome information being filtered, whereas the RSS space is the opposite of that—a reputational relationship between authors. I think thats true. There are a whole bunch of challenges getting e-mail all the way to that point, but one of the nice things that you can do with the conversations is that you know when youre in a conversation. As long as youre interested in one of the messages, then you should be interested in all. Theres no spam that sneaks into the middle of a conversation. You know whats of interest to you, you know youre going to read the whole thing, and theres going to be nothing else uncontrolled in there. Going back to the notion of an API, something like 90 percent of all collaboration applications are actually running on e-mail. Yeah, I can definitely believe that. And thats not necessarily such a good thing, of course … Because it has lots of limitations … Given some of the discussion about privacy and rights, if you could provide API access to those rights—who could read, write, etc. —give that to the user, they could then turn around and use that as a way of arranging relationships between themselves and others, essentially bartering their rights, access to their information, in return for information thats coming to them. I think thats an interesting idea. We try to be as upfront as we can be, but obviously if their clients, or Web browsers and whatnot, could negotiate these things for them, then we could be even more upfront. It would take the conversation, if you will, away from whether its the cloud thats making those decisions and put it in the hands of the user. Thats true, but to be fair, even as it is, we try to make the decision as clear to the user as possible. Next page: We cant guarantee an instantaneous deletion, Brin says.

Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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