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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: January ::
Re: E-Mail: A Thin Communication Medium?
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0014.  Friday, 7 January 1994.
 
(1)From:                Vint Cerf <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 6 Jan 94 23:00 EST
Subject: 5.0013  Re: E-Mail: A Thin Communication Medium?
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0013  Re: E-Mail: A Thin Communication Medium?
 
(2)From:                James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
Date:           Friday, 07 Jan 1994 09:59:21 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0013  Re: E-Mail: A Thin Communication Medium?
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0013  Re: E-Mail: A Thin Communication Medium?
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Vint Cerf <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 6 Jan 94 23:00 EST
Subject: 5.0013  Re: E-Mail: A Thin Communication Medium?
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0013  Re: E-Mail: A Thin Communication Medium?
 
Just a brief thought on the nature of email communication. As with ALL forms of
communication, one has to establish some kind of context for the communication
to "make sense." In spoken discourse, one has various auxiliary tools to apply
to establish context: tone of voice and, if visual information is also
available, then body language as well.
 
If one is familiar with the local (physical, temporal) context, irony and other
subleties may be conveyed by relying on this shared knowledge. Absent such
sharing, the communication is prone to misinterpretation or other communication
disorders.
 
A hypertext/hypermedia Shakespeare would be a lovely contribution if, where
special implications should be noted, one can be diverted to a tutorial segment
which helps you establish the context in which the special meaning is evident.
 
Vint Cerf
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
Date:           Friday, 07 Jan 1994 09:59:21 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0013  Re: E-Mail: A Thin Communication Medium?
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0013  Re: E-Mail: A Thin Communication Medium?
 
I agree with Tom Davey that the central issue with e-mail is not that the
resources to embed irony and other emotions are not there, but rather that we
fail to treat e-mail as a serious form of writing. After all, it is easy to
type REPLY and dash off a note that is not well thought out, forgetting that
(in this case) 450 people are going to read it, and that it will be archived in
a computer in Toronto. You will remember that when Bosie's father threatened to
publish Oscar Wilde's amorous letters, the latter replied that he always wrote
for publication.  He was, in part, whistling in the dark, but Virginia Woolf
wrote both prolifically and with careful thought to even the most casual
correspondence.  She was always dashing off notes for the morning mail,
expecting a reply by lunch, with a RETURN reply often sent off in the
afternoon.  While only invitations to dinner or sarcastic commentary on the
previous night's revels, we now read and value these occasional communications
for their delightful writing.  Few of us take that much care with our words.
(Have you noticed, for example. how e-mail paragraphs tend to ramble and run
on? ...)
 
A few years ago, I did some freelance computer consulting, for which I was
compensated with two reams of 100% cotton writing paper.  The next opportunity,
I may ask for a Mont Blanc pen, and abandon electrons altogether.  Until then,
I'm going down the hall and confront Jon Enriquez about those ridiculous
"emoticons."
 
Jim Schaefer
Graduate School
Georgetown University

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