Gmail, Googles new Web-based e-mail service, has sparked commentary, controversy and even calls for congressional action. eWEEKs Steve Gillmor explored the perils and possibilities of the free software-as-service in an exclusive conversation with Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
Obviously, there are privacy implications of Gmail that I do want to touch on, but Im just as interested in the opportunities for programmability of this technology. If you could establish an API for this, that would be something really spectacular.
Thats an interesting idea. I havent thought too much prior to your mentioning it now, but there are certainly a variety of processes that I have in the past done with Unix, because I can basically program it to do all kinds of things with my e-mail—forward certain messages automatically, erase other ones automatically, trigger programs—and it would be interesting to consider doing those here.
Much in the same way that youve established keyboard shortcuts, you could establish macros, etc.
Yeah, thats a very good point. One thing Ive been talking to the team about is to be able to save your searches and have easy access to them. For example, I have a search that I often use—show me the unread messages in my inbox that were sent to me directly rather than to a mailing list that Im on. I use that one pretty often, but it would be nice to have it to save and maybe have it attach to a label or something like that.
Could you give me a quick overview of the goals of this project?
It started as an experiment to see if our search could be used on e-mail. And in fact, it was originally applied to my e-mail. I get a lot of e-mail—I have many gigabytes of it, and its hard to manage. I have all the same challenges as everybody out there, and I found that having effective search, having large storage, having the kind of threading that weve done here—all those things make me more efficient with my e-mail. And thats what I then decided that we should make available to the entire world.
Threading—is that what you refer to as conversation in the software?
Exactly. Sorry, we rename things to make them clearer, but yeah, its the conversation.