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rachel at phoenixfeather.net
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April 02, 2004
The Life of a Gmail Tester
Fire , Media

In some ways I can't believe I'm doing this since just a week ago I was on the other side of the table, but I've had the time to adjust and the rest of the world hasn't, so even though my little blog doesn't get too much traffic I'm going to say my peace to defend google.

Wired Magazine among other news distributors have moved from their reports of - Gmail would be cool if its not a April Fools Joke - to - Gmail is going to invade your privacy, run away run away!

In addition those same fears were recently brought up in the comments of a post on fury.com, and I felt the need to comment very simply because as a usability tester on this project I voiced these same fears directly to Google.

I didn't notice the ads right away when testing Gmail. Gmail ads look very much like a normal google site were the ads appear discretely along the side of the window; next to, but not in the content of your email.

When I did notice though I did a double take; there they were, these ads about hair dye down on the side of my window. In my email I was discussing dying my hair with a friend. How the $%*&&#! did they get there? I felt violated. But the thing is we get violated by the internet every day: yahoo and hotmail searches your incoming email to sort out spam and there are a million other examples. The difference here is the glaring reminder on the side of your window. To begin with it's a little freaky - kinda like that horror movie always checking your back feeling. BUT IT DOESN'T LAST!

I understand where anyone who is a bit freaked out is coming from, but also I think if I'm going to trust someone it's going to be Google. It took me a little bit, but I got over it. I had the added motivation that I really wanted to be able to use the product that I'm so very proud of Kevin for designing. I also had the added benefit of being able to tell the Google testers exactly why I felt violated. Regardless of that I think that the rest of the world will get over it too. Poor Kevin and Google are going to have to ride out the adjustment period (it happens with things that are different - I doubt everyone trusted cars - those odd motorized contraptions - when they first came out) just like they did with me and I'm sure other testers too; But I think in the end the world will realize its not the boogie man lurking in their closet, its just some friendly dust bunnies happily folding your socks for you.

(As a side note I just want to congratulate Kevin and Google on a job well done. And also give thanks to Zhaneel for for being willing to voice her concern; It really gave me a chance to respond to feelings I know that I just had.)

I trust Google and they value the trust the people have for them enough work very hard to keep it.

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