Professor Dorin's Email Screed

Email is a great invention, but compared with genetically-engineered Human Voice Technology, its effective bandwidth is too low for most communications about this course. If you have a question that can be answered succinctly, or if you wish to convey some information for which a reply is unnecessary, then you should feel quite free to send email. Longer discussions, however, should be conducted at class or at my office, as appropriate.

Here's the official protocol:

Here are some examples:

Try to remember- or, at least, to envision- the world before email: the primary means for interpersonal communication was faccia a faccia, followed by the telephone and the U.S. postal service, in decreasing order of bandwidth. Most communication seemed relevant, and it took only a minute or two to provide your input, or to answer a question.

Increasingly, I find myself in conversations with friends, family, and colleagues about Death by Email- specifically, about the amount of time we devote every day to growing inboxes of email, most of which could be handled with a quick phone call or voice message. Instead, each reply takes five, ten, twenty minutes to fashion- not to mention the time spent parsing through solicitations, irrelevant surveys, meaningless chain letters, countless ads, and just about every other manner of spam.

I've asked several of my friends who are experts in interpersonal communication for some guidance and rules pertaining to email etiquette; apparently, these are unchartered waters- so we're just going to have to sort things out for ourselves! Therefore, this semester we will use the above-described protocol and, at the end of the semester, we'll revisit the issue to see if, perhaps, we have come up with something to better serve mankind.

Revised: 2016-01-10T17:20:00