Posted by Jami Schwarzwalder
I’m graduating soon, so I created a gmail account that I will have long after I leave my school. I found out quickly that gmail groups messages together so that listserv replies that normally would each show individually, now are nicely grouped under the original message. So I transferred all of my listservs to gmail, and joined another one.
This is all great, but gmail has another feature built in: Quick Contacts. Everyone that sends me a message, and has a gmail account seems to end up on the list. The chat works inside the browser so I haven’t had any problems using it on computers that block IM. The odd part is that people from the listservs that have gmail also show up on the Quick Contacts bar, which for a while made me wonder who they were. So I looked, and once I realized who they were I said hi. Now I know two people I would never have known if it hadn’t been for Google Chat.
The last thing I like about google chat is that the messages are saved in my e-mail. So when I chat with librarians I can go back and see the information we discussed. (This seems great for planning). I have become a big fan of gmail, because it allows me to have the same flexibility as outlook (tags, filters, spam control) while being browser based. I can check my mail and chat from anywhere.
The integration of these two technologies feels natural to me, much like the integration of personal webpages, blogs, mail, message boards, and now IM on Myspace. I would recommend students create a gmail account and register for a few listservs, because the experience will help you understand the world of teens better.