Surviving Email

Gmail—The Mail That Groks and Rocks

 Gmail, the free web-based e-mail powered by Google, is barely a year old, and it’s really proving its mettle for mailing list subscribers. Gmail started as an invitation-only affair, which meant that you had to know someone who possessed one of the prized invitations. Or had one to sell on eBay. And then each Gmail user was handed a few to dole out, making its users feel like Lord or Lady Bountiful. Now it’s free to anyone, supported by ads Google thinks you would find relevant after reading the content of your e-mail.

At first, friends and I exchanged e-mail containing terms like leprosy and mitochondria and Planck’s Constant, just to see if we could trigger a Google ad. The system was just too smart to fall prey to our taunts. The advertisements really are unobtrusive, simply alongside the right-hand edge of the browser page and not part of the message.

I’d always considered web-based e-mail like Hotmail and Yahoo something for idiots who weren’t up to handling Outlook, Eudora, or “real” e-mail programs. Or who wanted a throwaway address for registrations and other desirable junk mail. But then I started advocating web-based e-mail with an address dedicated to mailing lists for those who couldn’t get the knack of filtering, who simply didn’t want e-mail from voluminous lists cluttering up their regular e-mail client, who wanted to avoid the temptation of checking out listserve mail all day long, and whose antispam filters prevented delivery of listserve mail.

I’m list manager of Solosez, a heavily trafficked mailing list, and my stock response to those list members who complain about difficulties in receiving Solosez mail is to hand them a Gmail invitation, suggesting that they dedicate it to Solosez mail. Even a couple of ABA staff members, whose names must remain secret, have confessed to using Gmail for Solosez.

Gmail takes e-mail a step further, threading messages into “conversations,” so that eight separate messages with the same subject could be read all at once. Its storage has been increased from one GB to two GB. It includes autoforwarding, signatures, POP downloads to another e-mail client, keyboard shortcuts, and, for compulsive e-mail checkers, the Gmail Notifier will alert you to new Gmail messages, and even more. Why, there’s even Gmail in Hebrew.

It’s e-mail on steroids. And it rocks.

And since it’s free, why not establish separate Gmail accounts for various mailing lists? One dedicated to your favorite, high-traffic list. (Hint: Would that be Solosez?) Perhaps another for legal technology lists, and yet another for substantive law lists. The possibilities are endless.

It was bound to happen. There are even web fora and mailing lists dedicated to discussing Gmail. Gmail Forums,, calls itself the “unofficial Gmail forum,” discussing use of the hottest new e-mail program, its features, bug reports, labels, using HTML, external images, mobility, and mailing sorting. At Yahoogroups is yet another discussion list devoted to Gmail:

Want a Gmail account? Write me at, and I’ll give you one. It won’t cost you a dime.

jennifer j. rose. jennifer j. rose is editor-in-chief of GPSolo . She lives in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico.

Neither the ABA nor ABA Sections endorse non-ABA products or services, and the product reviews in the Technology eReport should not be so construed.

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