A Great Analogy For GMail Labels [BerryReview]

via BerryReview.com by Ronen Halevy on 1/22/09

gmaillogo A few years ago I started using Gmail and it started as a rocky start. I was confused by the labels, archiving, conversations, and lack of folders. It was different from Outlook in so many ways. It took me a bit to understand it and since I have fallen in love.

The thing is that many people ask me for a good email service to connect with their BlackBerry. I usually recommend Gmail. The problem is that it has a learning curve compared to Yahoo mail and others. I recently ran across a article on Google System Blog that quoted an analogy by Gravi_t on Knol explaining what makes Gmail different. I felt it was worth a share:

Imagine this:
- each email is a piece of paper
- labels are post-it notes, sticky notes
- there are default labels, like "Inbox", "Sent items", "Trash" ("Bin"), "Spam"
- you can also create labels (i.e. sticky notes)
This means that - unlike in other email services - you do not put the emails into folders. You actually attach labels to the emails.

Only one copy of your emails:
- you only just have ONE existing copy of your emails
- no matter how many labels (post-its) you stick on them
- you can attach as many labels to this one copy as you want, just as you can stick a lot of post-it notes to the same one piece of paper
This is why your email disappears from everywhere when you delete it; because deleting the email means deleting the "piece of paper"!!

This is by no means a comprehensive analogy and it does break down at a point but I think it does a great job of explaining the difference between labels and folders. On the other hand this all gets really confusing when you try to use Gmail over IMAP in outlook… I’m just hoping Google finds a way to create an offline client for Gmail.

by Ben Pike