Kottke has been talking about the WebOS and how a lot of the feed back talks about how as fast and cheep high speed internet spreads people will be offline less and less. Jason points out that if the system fails then you either don’t have access to your stuff or you might possibly lose it all. Not to mention that librarians will point out that broadband or even dial up is as far spread as you might think.
While trying to use a service who’s site has gone down is a pain I think the bigger picture of WebOS is ownership of data. While it would be nice to have access to all your gmail while you are offline I think the better reason to keep a copy is for portability. If you want to change emails clients today you need to find some way to get the mail off the old website and over to the new website. While it can be done I don’t think any two email services have made moving to and from their service easy.
In the future, with all my mail on the server and my computer, I can just abandon the old email service. The new email service only has to reorder the email on my computer to match their new service. Barring the addition of any sort of email DRM it should be relatively easy to read the email text files on my computer and reorganize with new file structure, new files name and new structure in the files. How awesome would it be if every email client you logged in to automatically displayed you’re entire email history?
I think it would be swell.