If you use Gmail, what happens if Google locks you out of your account permanently and without warning? (It happens.) What if they kill IMAP support and you rely on it? Or what if they simply start to suck otherwise? How easily can you move to a different email host? How much disruption will it cause in your workflow? Does your email address end in @gmail.com? What would have happened if we all switched to Wave? What happens if Facebook messages replace email for most people?
Proprietary monocultures are so harmful because they hinder or prevent you from moving away.
This is why it’s so important to keep as much of your data as possible in the most common, widespread, open-if-possible formats, in local files that you can move, copy, and back up yourself.3 And if you care about developing a long-lasting online audience or presence, you’re best served by owning your identity as much as possible.
Investing too heavily in someone else’s proprietary system for too long rarely ends gracefully, but when it bites us, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.
“You have cut off my communication, disrupted my personal and professional life, effectively stolen vast amounts of my personal and professional data, accused me of something without telling me that I am accused, accused me of something without telling me what it is that you have accused me of, blocked any direct communication with my accuser, and given me no ability to appeal this decision or to speak with someone on the facts of the case. This company is headed down a very, very menacing path if it continues in this way.”
This is why i left gmail as my primary email address provider and started my own domain and email service with a small ISP.
These days, email is just too valuable to be left with an unknown company with whom you have no way to contact and no commercial relationship to demand responsibilities.
The only way you can contact with Google is by literally going to their doorstep and knocking. Which, considering i’m way across the Atlantic, is a bit unpractical.
So if you trust Google’s Gmail with your personal and work communication and you have years of valuable data there, don’t!! Own your identity!