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Google Goggles

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Bar patrons
(Sasha Aslanian)
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Ever had the clever idea late at night - after you've had a few - to email your crush, or your ex? Google wants to save you from yourself. Gmail debuted something called "Gmail Goggles" this week. If you're emailing late on a Friday or Saturday night, it flings a quick math test up on your screen to see if you're really fit to send that email. If you flunk, your message doesn't go anywhere. Will an "email breathalyzer" work?


Plums neighborhood bar in St. Paul is gathering spot for students at several local private colleges. Four attractive young women standing around a table near the door are happy to explain the telltale signs of a drunken email.

"There's misspellings, there's lots of confessions of love, swear words, and they're from someone you wouldn't even expect, not even a good friend, but like an acquaintance!"

And these four women haven't just been on the receiving end of drunk emails. At our corner table late at night, it's true confession time.

"I've sent assignments when I was drunk for an online class," says one. Another pipes up that she has, too. "I would have rather not done that," the first one says, with regret in her voice.

Across the bar, I put the same question to one of the guys: has he ever sent a drunken email he regrets?

"An email?" he says with surprise. "I don't send emails. I've written something I regret on Facebook. No one writes emails. I'm 22. I write emails when I'm looking for a job."

Email is passe. Facebook and text messaging are all that counts.

Outside the bar, a chatty group of patrons immediately sees ways to extend Google's idea. "Cell phones!" shouts one young woman. "Because by the time that I get to a computer, I've already done something stupid. But if my cell phone recognized my voice and realized it was slurring and it stopped me with a voice message, it would be almost like a conscience speaking to me."

Technology serving as a conscience. Wow.

Over at nearby Macalester College, the men's hockey club is meeting and apparently sober.

No one admits to sending dumb emails. When I express surprise and ask if anyone is going to sign up for Gmail Googles, one guy sheepishly admits he already has, and there's huge laughter in the room.

This is a tougher crowd for Google. The guys don't like the idea of a filter.

"They should learn from a mistake rather than having a computer program monitor your drunkenness," says one.

In my unscientific poll, women seemed more appreciative of Google's attempt to prevent stupidity. Men seemed more resigned to let the chips fall where they may.

"I have doomed myself with my cell phone," says one. "But also I've had really fun drunk conversations!" interrupts another.

The first one continues his story. "I've also left a party at two in the morning and called a long lost friend and had the best conversation of my life."

And isn't that the hope of everyone with beer googles on?


  • Comment | Refresh

  • By Marc Naimark

    From Paris, YT, 10/13/2008

    Would that Google came out with a device that filtered out the word "like" from that girl who cannot put together more than three words without sticking in a "like".

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