The Alumni Association at a Canadian University is offering a life time email account in cooperation with Google mail. maybe a note of caution is usefule here - Note that Google mail's terms of agreement include a statement of ownership:
11. Content licence from you
11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.
11.2 You agree that this licence includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.
11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this licence shall permit Google to take these actions.
11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above licence.
So, Google wants to own me, my data and what about my security...
My Space, Facebook and now Google have announced a desire to be the central node for your personal profile and friends list, and allow you to move from social network to social network...
" Social networking site Facebook is following rival MySpace's lead by letting users transfer their personal profiles to other websites. Facebook will implement a system that allows its 70 million users to copy pictures, personal information and other customized applications established on its site to other websites without additional effort.
Users' privacy settings on Facebook will also remain in effect on external websites.
"We believe the next evolution of data portability is about much more than data," wrote Dave Morin on the social networking site's developer blog. "It's about giving users the ability to take their identity and friends with them around the Web, while being able to trust that their information is always up to date and always protected by their privacy settings."
Facebook's larger rival, MySpace, made a similar announcement on Tuesday. The social networking site, which has 120 million users, said it will allow users to move their profiles and media to partner websites, which so far include Yahoo Inc., eBay Inc., Photobucket and Twitter.
One of Facebook's initial partners will be news-ranking site Digg.com. Morin said Facebook will add more partners.
Ok here's my two cents:
I want data portability. I want to have an openID. I want to move in and out of various social networks - freely. I want a central homebase where my web identity lives. What I don't want is someone owning my data, my connections and my networking activity. Will any proprietary service alow me this freedom? No. is there another service available? No - not yet. We need a non-profit foundation to step in and act as the central hub for social network users - this is especially necessary in the educational arena as we move to lifelong learning and the development and maintenance of electronic portfolios - where will these perosnal learning maps reside? They certainly can't reside alongside the Google life long e-mail, nor should they reside on any proprietary learning management system.
We have a battle on our hands to ensure our web life remains (becomes) within our control.