Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Boxes and Arrows: The Information Architecture of Email

Boxes and Arrows: The Information Architecture of Email "As Gmail comes out of Beta, Google may find itself with a product that users are slow to adopt. People may find the subtle change in the email paradigm more dramatic than Google anticipated. Perhaps this speaks to the dangers of bad design: a bad product can just as easily become entrenched as rejected, such that when a better one comes along, users are reluctant to adopt it.
It may be difficult to think of email applications as “bad design,” and before I started using Gmail it never occurred to me that they were. On the other hand, Google’s different approach to email has led to some stark revelations about my email behavior. At the most basic level, managing email — an activity whose necessity rates somewhere between scheduled car maintenance and eating — requires too much thinking under current models. Users may be pleased to have to “think less.”
The paradigm shift, however, will be the least of Google’s problems. With its search engine advertising practices under constant scrutiny, Google faces myriad new issues by attaching targeted advertisements to emails, potentially a gross invasion of privacy. At the same time, the advertisements for mandolin dealers and instructors that come attached to posts to the mandolin mailing list are almost as valuable as the posts themselves."

Via Tomalak's Realm
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