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The Public Ineffectual

For entertainment purposes only.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

You've Got (G)mail!

I have been invited to open a Gmail account, the new email service with 1 gigabyte* of storage that is currently being beta tested by Google. It bears repeating that I was invited to open said account which means that I have entered a circle that is necessarily exclusive for one simple instrumental reason; making sure the damn thing works as it should before offering it to the plebeian masses. Me, being me, can't help to think of it but in a frame of social status. *I* have the distinction of being close enough to someone who is a vector of transmission that emanates from powers that be at Google (cue: angels singing).

A new acquaintance (not Ms. Nikavee) whom I recently directed to this blog, remarked that I'm "a bit of a geek". Friendster, papernapkin.com, blogging...I'm fairly sure (at least, I hope) he meant it as a term of endearment but I have to admit that the observation took me a bit by surprise. In fact, I thought I was lagging on the whole blogging phenomenon. I viewed it as something of a case of "old wine in new bottles" insofar as personal web pages have been around since (internet) time imemorial. But the relative ease with which publishing occurs opens the activity up to a larger slice of the population that happens to include yours truly (you all know my problems with HTML). This, to my mind, makes me feel like I've entered at the level of blogging's commodity status. To use a music analogy, I'm walking around telling people how much this band called Nirvana rocks out. Yet, I've been truly surprised how many people have asked me what a "blog" was.

I don't consider myself a geek. The only reason I have Panther (OS X.Something) on my computer is because Michel put it on there for me - I barely feel competent to do it myself. I can scarcely burn a CD to back up my work. But I am surrounded by geeks. Attending a university, I am exposed to geeks of every persuasion; you name it, we got it.

This made me think of Sociology 101 and the idea of social comparison. I think it was Thorsten Veblen who said that we tend to compare ourselves to the people directly "above" us in social status. Thus, we compare ourselves to those who live just beyond our means whose luxuries we would like to afford and not the insanely rich whose-names-you-don't-even-need-to-know. Gmail and this site give me a geeky aura to some, whereas I feel like a hunkering luddite next to others like my Ex and his engineering pals.

Does this mean that I'm actually missing a step and comparing too far up? Does this mean I'm a social climber or does it mean I have a low self-opinion? Or both?

Bonus question: Is it possible to ever get a reliable sense of where we sit on the continuum of adoption of ANY innovation?

I can now be reached on thepublicineffectual[at]gmail.com. You know, Gmail is going to be the new black.

* I really have no idea how much that is, I just know its a lot.


At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've got 6 invites to shell out if anyone needs one !

steveyb [at] gmail.com

At 6:50 PM, Blogger Oblivia said...

Good God. Am I the only one left out of this loop? This is very disturbing. My place on the continuum is drifting ever downward...

At 9:34 AM, Blogger soylent said...

um. yup. you are last! i have one too!

At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Soylent doesn't even use his... but he *had* to have one!



P.S. I have 6 invites too...

At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got a few left too.
But I'm saving them for the "worthy".


At 10:17 PM, Blogger Oblivia said...

OK. So circle apparently not as exclusive as I thought. Does that mean I'm surrounded by early adopters? Should I move out to the boondocks so I can be cooler?

I'm only just starting to figure out how gmail works and its awesome. Thanks Nika!


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