As a Blogger.com member, a few weeks back I received an invitation from Google (Blogger's parent company) to try their new Gmail e-mail service before the system goes live. Even though I already have too many e-mail accounts that I don't check, I created my Gmail account anyway, just to see what the system looks like. It seems about the same as Yahoo mail, only with more space. I'm hardly using the account right now, and I don't see any circumstances under which I'd use it more. I guess if I were stuck with Hotmail all the time, I'd see Gmail as a big improvement. At least I've reserved my usual e-mail handle on Gmail, so no one else gets it.
Last week, Wired and The Washington Post both covered GmailSwap, a site where those who want Gmail can beg those who have it for an invitation to join now, instead of when the system actually launches. There are all sorts of interesting things offered in exchange for a Gmail account, though I suspect most people aren't following through on the offer once they receive their coveted invitations. I responded to one post and agreed to send an invitation to a Yahoo! mail user in exchange for two pounds of Starbucks coffee beans. I doubt I'll actually see the coffee, though, as the same user has continued to post offers for coffee, Starbucks aprons, computer parts, secret shopping tutorials, and other things in exchange for Gmail access. I have a strong feeling I've been taken. (In retrospect, I could have told the guy that I would send him the invite once I got the coffee, but what reason did he have to believe that I'd follow through? I could have kept the coffee and sent the invitation to someone else.) In economic terms, the Gmail system has little value to me, so if I gave up something of virtually no value (and certainly no monetary value) in exchange for no coffee, I don't think I've lost much. Ideally, GmailSwap would be a great bartering system. Unfortunately, I think it's just a waste of time. That hasn't stopped me from looking for another potential suitor for my one remaining Gmail invite. If you're reading this, and you actually know me personally, and you want the invitation, e-mail me. You don't even have to give me anything in return.