The journey of an email – as told by Google

Today, when I opened up Google, I saw something new. In the past Google has used the space directly below the search box to notify users of holiday events, privacy policy updates, tributes to industry legends – such as the Steve Jobs tribute, among other things.

Google's Tribute to Steve Jobs

Google's tribute to industry legend - Steve Jobs

Today however Google is using this spot to advertise its new feature, which lets you follow the journey of an email: ‘The Story of Send’.

Google's homepage with a link to 'The Story of Send'

Google advertises 'The Story of Send: Follow an email on its journey.' on its homepage

When you click the link, you are taken to a page on Google’s Green website ( which tells you how you can

“Take a journey through Google’s data centers by following an email along its path.”

Click ‘Start the story’ and the journey begins! Google takes you through an interactive journey of a Gmail email, from when you hit send on your device, to when it arrives at its destination.

The tour takes about 5 minutes (around 50 if you watch all the videos) however, as we all know, the journey of a real email, takes seconds – if that sometimes.

It is evident that the project is meant to be promotional for Google, as it points out all the good points along the journey. For example, how they have ‘built an extensive Internet backbone across the U.S.‘ to speed things up; how they ‘protect your message with a wide range of security measures‘ and how their data centres use ‘50% less energy than typical data centers‘ etc.

What the journey fails to point out is the less desirable things that go on. One example being how your email is read (or spidered) by Google Bots/Spiders, keywords are picked out, and then relevant ads are displayed alongside the message. Another being how Google want not only to own the systems which deliver your emails, but also the infrastructure (the cables and power) which gets it there – is that not a bit of a monopoly?

I like Google, I think it does a wonderful job, and it is great that it offers us all so much for free, however they do also do a good job of covering up the stuff they don’t want us to here.

Check out the video below for more. I found it and tweeted about it a while ago, however never really found an article for it to go in.

So, have you taken the journey yet? Aside from the obvious PR (public relations not PageRank) stuffed in, it does make interesting viewing.

More interested in talking about the ethics of Google? Add your view below 🙂

Why not talk about them both!

Your views?