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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Redemption For Your Digital Soul

Posted by: danish Ahmed 2:51 AM

[Source: http://www.emailintervention.com/]
 If you think lately Google has been straying from its motto " Don't be evil",you may be in a rude shock the next time you login to  your Gmail account. Well, if you don't have Gmail account, do not despair, redemption is at hand. For the blessed few (roughly 200 million) of us, a brand new link sits next to our respective inboxes to let us participate in the campaign Email Intervention and go unto the heathen that their digital souls may be saved. Were it not July I would have been sure of it being a Fools Day joke but April is far,the web is changing rapidly.

Letting users invite their contacts to create their contacts has been one of the best features of most Google products starting with Gmail but Email Intervention reeks of arrogance and may be a hint of despair. The bold headlines calling you to take action and save your friends from outdated email is but a glimpse of the over-the-top advertisement. I am not a huge brand loyalist (except 2- Delphi and Twitter),I do want those of my friends not on Gmail to create an account on it so we may be able able to communicate more effectively and I did wan't to invite a few contacts but without ego-bashing them or otherwise insulting their intellect. But, I feared that carrying on an email intervention in this manner would make the recipients think that I making poor jokes or insulting them !

The basic problem with Email Intervention campaign is that they have taken it out of advertisement/promotion domain and tried to integrate with social causes, especially on the lines of Facebook causes apps. Even that would have been fine but for the content that greets you on the homepage. After you click on the "Start The Intervention" button,it loads a list of your contacts whose email addresses do not have @gmail.com. Something I noticed but can't say with certainty is that it seems to pull non-gmail addresses of people I know but don't remembered to ever have added to contacts. This can perhaps be explained in terms of those group mails I may have replied to but there is no reason to list corporate email addresses of people who have their gmail accounts with same username or bot accounts such as customercare@somedomain.com I wonder how much time would have taken to modify the algorithm to refine the list.

Once you have selected contacts you  want to send invitation to, you are presented with three pre-composed messages whose content are supposed to reflect one of the following three sentiments you harbour when you find your contact is not on gmail.

  • Straightforward - A blunt message asking your contact to just switch over to Gmail     
  • Concerned - As a superior being by virtue of being a Gmail user, it is your duty to undertake the G-man's burden and liberate the lesser mortals by enlightening them on the email nirvana that Gmail bestows.
  • Outraged -How embarrassed you are that someone you know is still not on Gmail and that its now or never. Pity there is no cyber equivalent to the medieval Inquisition :P 

 If there weren't text accrediting few folks from Gmail team, you would have been sure that that the content was created by a veteran far-right evangelist! Though the word "evangelism" in context of a brand,service or platform is popularly used in Internet culture it was never expected to be stretched to this extent. The fact is I did want to invite a few people but I was sure it wouldn't have gone well with them. It was down right insulting. Further,it was surprising why Google would launch such a campaign, its not a startup, its the biggest web-based company, where did the hint of insecurity and despair come from.

Until last week I was pretty sure that Gmail was the leading email service provider but it was surprising to find it in the third place behind Hotmail and Yahoo.  At the same time, it has also locked its horn with Facebook for the lion's share of social web data. What do Facebook, Microsoft,Skype and Yahoo have in common ? All of them are opposed to Google's hegemony on web and unlike in it previous attempts, the search giant has let its search engine competency dependent on success of Google+.       

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