Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cloud computing: will it breed pack(et) rats?

I have a confession to make: my Gmail inbox just hit 1,000 unread messages. Yup... 1-0-0-0.

Though many friends and colleagues -- namely @godlovesjacob and @jrdwlls -- have tried to encourage me toward Inbox Zero, 1,000 unread emails are too daunting to deal with; consequently, I keep letting the problem get worse.

My lack of email discipline was a problem when I worked at Paste and was restricted to a mailbox disk quota limit, especially because I had a lot of file attachments stored. But it did teach me some email discipline. With Gmail, though, I have a long ways to go before I hit that 7357mb limit...

Why not just delete these unread messages? you ask.

Good question -- maybe I'll need to reference them some day in the future, or intend to read them later?

When I think of my inbox I think of my old neighbors, who used to park their cars in the street because their garage was full of boxes. These people were pack rats who liked to hold on to "stuff" -- be it memorabilia, magazines or, I don't know, notebooks from 5th grade science class that may come in handy some day.

I was considering these things this morning when I saw this ad pop up on Tech Crunch:

It struck me that the very selling point of Google Apps and other cloud-based services might be a bad thing in that it encourages people to store all they need, or moreover, want to save.

Will this create a breed of "pack(et) rats" who never learn how to clean up their email, but rather put it in storage?

Now granted, there is consequence to such seemingly unlimited storage. The cost may be a utility-like payment stream, or a flat rental fee, or having to subject yourself to Google Ads. But I wonder how many companies or individuals will have enough discipline in the early stages of their SaaS usage to sort and purge information appropriately (clearly I don't).

"Your Inbox is Full" error: good thing or bad thing?

1 comment:

Mark DiCristina said...

I use the "Archive" button in Gmail, which creates the illusion of an empty inbox, even though there are thousands of messages in my account that have never been read. Who cares? It's out of my way and I have all the storage I need. Forget about folders and tags, too. The search bar works just fine.

You can also enable "Send and Archive" with Gmail Labs, which gives you the option of immediately archiving a conversation when you reply.

So you can have both a mountain of useless information and a spotless inbox at the same time!