Where does an email go when you press send – before it arrives in the inbox it’s being delivered to?
With millions of electronic messages sent every day in the UK and around the world, it’s a mystery to most people who simply rely on the system to work without needing to know how it works.
But if you’re keen to know what does happen to your email when it heads off from your screen, Google has launched an amazing new project.
The Story of Send
Called the Story of Send, it allows viewers to follow a virtual tour from their computer through the Internet Service Provider, servers and beyond.
Writing on Google’s blog, Erin Reilly, of the Google Green team, said:
“In the past, Gmail fans have shown us how emails connect people across the world. Now we’re providing a glimpse into how those emails go from one place to another. So hit send and start the journey today.”
“Along the way, you’ll discover everything from where we filter for spam and scan for viruses to how we’re minimising our impact on the environment through energy efficiency and renewable power.”
The innovative Story of Send website tracks a message across land and even underwater through data cables laid deep underground. They are even placed at the bottom of the ocean to allow emails to go from country to country around the world.
Once it leaves you and then your ISP, it’s off to Google’s data centre where it is kept safe and secure. You can see a video of just how secure it is there on the Story of Send website journey.
According to Google, its email delivery is among the greenest in the world because it keeps its data centres at a set temperature to avoid having to use lots of air-conditioning that uses up energy. As a consequence, Google staff then get to wear shorts to work and its cooling system is able to conserve water too.
Erin Reilly added:
“If you’re curious what data centre servers look like, we’ve included some photos. Or you can watch a video to learn about how we purchase clean energy from wind farms near our data centres.”
The Story of Send is packed with pictures and lots of clever videos to bring the email’s journey to life as it is then given instructions on where to go next.
The message is then scanned for viruses and spam, duplicated to back it up and passed on through other cables and data centres until it finally reaches an inbox, whether that’s on a computer, mobile phone or tablet.
As the Story of Send describes it:
“The whole trip took just seconds and happens billions of times a day.”
It’s an amazing educational electronic ride through a process we all have a hand in every day. The only thing it doesn’t show is why it can’t stop your friends from passing on those stupid jokey emails they insist on forwarding.
But all technology has to rely on some human interaction and sense somewhere down the line we suppose!