Posers or Pioneers?

Image representing Gmail as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Google’s first departure from being a dedicated search engine and into the vast array of an ever-expanding cyber world launched in 2004. It was called Gmail, and very quickly became wildly successful. There were a few things Gmail introduced that revamped our traditional idea of an e-mail client; the first, was that there is virtually unlimited storage space. Starting at 1 gigabyte and continuously growing, it’s possible to send songs, documents, and videos regardless of previously considered capacity issues. The second part of this soon-to-be zeitgeist was that there was never any spam. Many people remember the old days of using Yahoo! or Hotmail and being bombarded with countless messages like “Buy Viagra Now” or “Find European Prescriptions Here.” And to top this off, the Gmail interface was very different from its’ competition. E-mailing became more of a fluid conversation, with easy to access threads throughout every message.

After almost 6 years, Gmail has finally gained some serious competitors. The previous king of messaging, AOL, has released “Project Phoenix,” a webmail client that looks very similar to Gmail. To add some flare to Project Phoenix, instead of ending an address with @aol.com, there are many suffixes to choose from—love.com, wow.com, etc. The problem is, there is a new kid on the block, and that kid is known by over 500 million people in the world—Facebook. FaceMail is currently in its beta testing period, which means that in a for months this new application will be released to the public. There is a very wide range of originality with Facebook’s new service—the user gets the choice of how a message can be sent to one another. Instead of getting a regular e-mail, they can opt instead of a text message. Users will have to stay connected to Facebook, because if they turn off their account, their e-mails and chat histories immediately vanish.

In a way, I am a little disappointed. When Gmail first came out I was ecstatic—not many people had heard of this new Google e-mail service and I was the first to use it out of anyone else around me. With FaceMail, code-named Project Titan, I know that I will not be in the small group of people trying it out for the first time—instead, I will be experimenting and getting comfortable with everybody else. However, I will not turn bitter, like many of the people I know lamenting over the past—whether it be “Beit T’Shuvah was so much a better a month ago. It’s not what it used to be,” or “Radiohead’s first album is so much better than any of their newer work.” Instead, I will focus on the improving of social technology and how this can potentially make my life a lot better. And who knows? Maybe once Project Titan is released, it will be a lot easier to get these blogs across to many more readers.

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About Ben Spielberg

I entered Beit T'Shuvah in August 2010. It is my home as well as my work. I'm 21 years old, an aspiring writer, musician, and general adventurer.
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