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Although I don’t have a Gmail account myself, I have been very impressed by what I have seen of the interface. One of the strange trends that seems to be developing in web design (especially in the Web 2.0 world) is HTML interfaces that try to mimic application interfaces. You can see it in the new Yahoo! Mail, which mimics the look of an Outlook-esque application and Apple’s new .Mac interface for webmail, which mimics the interface of Apple’s own Mail app. Without getting off on a rant here (too late!), it strikes me as bad design; Gmail, on the other hand, has impressed me by the choice to treat the web browsing/browser interface as the unique experience that it is. Interacting with a web browser is different than interacting with an application. Risking one more comment: it’s not just a design interest that motivates my thinking here. . . . It seems like such a postmodern—dreaded word that it is—development; the look and surface of that which is hosted on the web server mimicking the look of the application on the local drive, despite the fact that both are built with entirely different materials. I’ll stop here. . . .

Except to note that I saw Mark Andrejevic (The University of Iowa, Communication Studies) present a really compelling paper on Google/Gmail and privacy at the recent NCA convention in San Antonio. He mentioned, if I am not mistaken, that it is part of an upcoming book. Anyways, it has got me thinking lately about these things and is probably the thing to blame for my first comment on your blog here, although I have enjoyed as a reader for some time now.


Thanks for the comment, groo. It strikes me that this choice is probably influenced by branding needs, too. Google doesn't want to look like other stuff, because it wants the whole world to look like Google! Mark's work sounds cool; thanks for the tip.


As a frequent gmail user I too have noticed the many hilarious adds. I always get the coffee one and of course ones pertaining to particle physics for some reason. But also links that seem to be scam operations for cheap flights to africa and south america which I think are linked to my many correspondences with those places. The scam artists are always one step ahead of us...

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