Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Send a Message Back in Time with Google

On April 1, 2008 (effective back to April 1, 2004), Google announced a new service that allows users to send an email message back in time -- for receipt in the past, before it was sent, so that it was timely, back then.

Apparently, it is a complicated system that required much research & development, but the good folks at Google are offering it for free with a simple interface and only some limitations on use.

Google's explanation of the service, "
Gmail Custom TimeTM", was posted online today:

How do I use it?

Just click "Set custom time" from the Compose view. Any email you send to the past appears in the proper chronological order in your recipient's inbox. You can opt for it to show up read or unread by selecting the appropriate option.

Is there a limit to how far back I can send email?

Yes. You'll only be able to send email back until April 1, 2004, the day we launched Gmail. If we were to let you send an email from Gmail before Gmail existed, well, that would be like hanging out with your parents before you were born -- crazy talk.

How does it work?

Gmail utilizes an e-flux capacitor to resolve issues of causality (see Grandfather Paradox).

How come I only get ten?

Our researchers have concluded that allowing each person more than ten pre-dated emails per year would cause people to lose faith in the accuracy of time, thus rendering the feature useless.

The service, in its prior tested "beta" version, appears well-received by users, who customized its capabilities to their own lifestyles or needs.

I am particularly intrigued by the uses of this new service for professionals, like attorneys, accountants, trust officers, and investment advisors. Think of those embarrassing moments when you missed a deadline, forgot a birthday, failed to notify someone of a visit, delivered incorrect advice, misjudged economic effects, or simply not responded timely.

With this new service, you can remedy those situations through email messages sent in hindsight that will then reflect your foresight, and be timely too!

There is some concern about overuse or misuse of this service. But, that is what laws, litigation, discovery, and Court TV are intended to address.

Personally, I hope that Google can extend this Gmail Custom Time technology to its Blogspot blogging software, which I use. Then, I could backdate a posting, and be right in a specific prediction on a complex matter, publicly.

For example, I could post a blog entry on April 23, 2008, correctly predicting, in the past, who would win the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary Election to be held on April 22, 2008, and I will have been right, down to the numbers.

For a review of other spectacular developments announced by Google today, see CNet's posting made on April 1, 2008, entitled "Google does April Fools': 'Custom time' and a Mars trip".

Update: 04/02/08:

On Google's Calendar website, I just noted a new offering by those folks: the
Google Wake Up KitNew!

For a list of the best April Fool's Day gags, see the website, Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time.

Update: 04/03/08:

I just learned from Google that the same new technology offered in the Gmail software was also added to the Blogger software, which I use at this Blog's "blogspot.com" address.

I will make a prediction, today, Thursday, April 3, 2008, about the upcoming Pennsylvania Primary Election, to be held three weeks away.

I predict that Hillary Clinton will achieve a ten percentage point margin of victory (55% to 45%) over Barack Obama in the Democratic Presidential Primary to be held in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, April 22, 2008.

I further predict that the vote levels will be in the range of
1,258,748 votes for Clinton, and 1,042,962 votes for Obama.

I also predict that I will not be an election night commentator for CNN.

Update: 04/23/08:

Hey . . . I was right! This thing works!!!