The Null Device

Gmail at a glance

One of the batch of Gmail invites that has recently flooded the streets has ended up in my hands, and hence I've been able to have a look at it.

Aside: This site has some concerns about Gmail's privacy implications. Granted, the somewhat eccentric graphics on the site give off a paranoid-crackpot vibe; however, some of the issues raised are concerning:

If Google builds a database of keywords associated with email addresses, the potential for abuse is staggering. Google could grow a database that spits out the email addresses of those who used those keywords. How about words such as "box cutters" in the same email as "airline schedules"? Can you think of anyone who might be interested in obtaining a list of email addresses for that particular combination? Or how about "mp3" with "download"? Since the RIAA has sent subpoenas to Internet service providers and universities in an effort to identify copyright abusers, why should we expect Gmail to be off-limits?

Does anybody know whether the RIAA or an equivalent agency would have an easier time ordering Google to hand over a list of all people with the words "mp3" and "download" in their mail than they would of ordering an ordinary ISP to give them access to customers' mail spools? (Mind you, the latter happened in Australia; ARIA did get access to student mail at various universities.)

There are 2 comments on "Gmail at a glance":

Posted by: gjw http://the-fix.org Fri Jun 11 13:43:58 2004

I actually think the Javascript stuff features some very smart programming - delete an email and a HTTP-GET request is sent by the Javascript to tell the server which email is now gone, while the actual message is visually removed from the page by DHTML. It works instantly, instead of making you wait for a page reload...Although it would be nice if they offered a plain HTML version if you didn't want this functionality. As for POP/IMAP - how could show you those ads beside the email?

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Fri Jun 11 17:26:24 2004

Yes; I noticed that Orkut (another Google experiment) does similar things with DHTML.

Does Javascript have a native XML-RPC interface yet, or is it all done just over HTTP?

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