I remember how I used to feel about email. It was many years after my first email address that I got a gmail account. It was both ephemeral, and permanent. I never had to worry about storage, that little storage counter was always going up! I would email myself small attachments, keep archives in very nice hierarchies, and generally revel in my ‘unlimited’ email account.
Fifteen years later I feel very differently about that gmail account. In a fit of frustration at the constant nagging to upgrade my storage plan, I deleted a large swath of my archives, old emails, folders, etc. I don’t know how I feel about that, but I do know how I feel about gmail. I’m ready for a fresh start.
It’s strange to say, coming from someone who once wrote a book called ‘live for free’, but a better email experience is worth paying for. Full stop.
I can trace my history of email addresses back to the mid-nineties. I started, as many did, with an email address on yahoo.com. I chose a figure from Japanese legend (and video games) Ishikawa Goemon, and for the rest of the 1990s I replied to emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I started at university in 99, I received a university email address. A year later, the domain for hunterdavis.com (which had been squatted at the time) went up for renewal, and I jumped on. For the past 20 years I’ve replied to emails sent to email@example.com.
When I started a PHD program in 05, I received a second university email address. I also signed up for a gmail account. As I already had my domain, I simply forwarded any emails sent into my firstname.lastname@example.org domain. All seemed well.
Over the past 15 years, I began to settle for Gmail. Settle for their lack of interface updates (don’t get me started on the inbox debacle, I was on from day 1.) Settle for their advertising, always increasing. Settle for their interface, the inability to email executable or zipped files, the complete lack of investment in the core mechanics of email. They can’t you see, can’t encourage us to use a more efficient system. Google is dependent on screen time for advertising.
As readers of this blog know, I’ve been working to distance myself from social networks and own more of my data. How much of my time has been wasted by Gmail? Those filters I once trusted are a constant headache of missed emails and spam. So much spam. So much advertising, disguised as communication. How many hours lost. How is that not worth 99$/year?
email me about it, email@example.com