On the list of sentences I never expected to see written by someone not-me “The way Gmail organizes mail into conversations is like cilantro.” might be on the top. But as it happens, that very sentence is the lede of what I’m sure will be a popular Gmail Blog post. Thanks Chris for pointing it out.
At first I was a bit disappointed not to be included in this post that so interestingly likens popular opinion on conversation view to popular opinion on cilantro (more on this comparison below). And what with the Google Gmail blog’s Wiltse Carpenter presumably using Google to search for anti-cilantro sites, and Google’s mysterious algorithm ably finding this niche blog #3 in search results for “i hate cilantro,” understandably behind two I Hate Cilantro.com pages, I’d have a sure spot, right? But then I read the short post again:
And I guess it’s truer to say that I hate cilantro enough to launch a blog (which I moved from Google’s Blogger service to WordPress, coincidence?) where I muse on cilantro hate and a wide range of topics I can relate to cilantro hate (it was really only a matter of time before conversation view was one these topics) than it is to say I hate cilantro enough to launch a site where I can hate it together [with other haters]. I’m more hating it alone, loudly, with a handful of commenters. So fine, moving on…
I did want to think a bit more about the simile set forth though. Conversation view and cilantro are alike because you love or hate them both. Let’s ignore for a moment that there are some crazy fencers out there who deem cilantro “fine” and have an indifference to various Google products and features that frankly I pity (it’s an exciting if nerdy world)–Wiltse next moves on from the simile in its most absolute form and goes on to confess that while he’s (he?) a cilantro lover he loves conversation view even more than he loves cilantro. And this got me thinking.
If you love conversation view more than you love cilantro do you really love it? If you hate cilantro more than you love conversation view, do you really love conversation view? Put another way, which is stronger, my love for Google or my hate for cilantro? That depends:
Will I ever stop loving Google or ever stop hating cilantro? It seems more likely I’d stop loving Google, since things have happened to make me love it less even as I perhaps also love it more for other reasons. Consider the time wasted on learning and never using Wave. (Anyone?) And how not evil are you REALLY Google? Well I still love you, but I don’t know if our love is forever. Will I stop hating cilantro? There was the time I couldn’t really taste it, but there’s never been a time I’ve had a raw bite of cilantro and thought it was anything less that truly awful. I’ve been at this hate for years, I’ve hated cilantro for longer than I’ve had a Gmail account and I think, you know what, I think I’m likely to go on hating cilantro forever, but if that changes, you’ll definitely hear about it here first.
But permanence isn’t the only measure of seriousness. It’s also a question of intensity. And while I’ve been moved enough by the convenience and efficiency Google products provide me (including Gmail and its awesome conversation view) to share this love vocally from time-to-time, indeed one might even overhear someone say “Oh yeah you know Erin, she loves Google and hates cilantro,” it just doesn’t feel as INTENSE. I lack the words but I FEEL more intensely about cilantro than Google, than conversation view. And while conversation might have a new on-off switch, cilantro never will.
Wiltse writes: “So just like you can order your baja fish tacos without cilantro, you can now get Gmail served up sans conversation view.” Yeah that’s all well and good I can get a taco without cilantro (harder than you’d think, restaurants aren’t all as catering as the Google tech team) but what about the next taco, or the surprise attack? If I could get my life served up without cilantro, that would be awesome, and more comprable.
So it seems clear: Wiltse loves conversation view more than he loves cilantro, and I hate cilantro more than I love conversation view and so it’s probably fitting that Wiltse Carpenter is the Technical Lead for Google while I’m here blogging about hating cilantro, when the spirit moves me.
And who the hell hates conversation view?