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"At the Speed of E-mail" mind matters
November 6, 2002
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In a world without e-mail, spelling counts.

Youíd think being able to send messages almost instantaneously around the world between computer users would be good enough. Remember, there once was a time when a letter sent overseas was really sent over the seas. The envelope was sealed with wax and carried over the ocean on a sailboat. If after several months you still got no response, you had no idea why.

But no, e-mail is apparently too slow for people. So slow, in fact, that even typing them is burdensome. Pundits everywhere are screaming about how nobody writes carefully any more. Nobody thinks about what theyíre going to say before they start typing. Writing is a lost art, they cry. Personally, I think itís the editing process thatís disappeared. Either way, whatís here to stay is a written, stream-of-consciousness communication. Itís like talking, but on paper.

Remember, we donít want written mail. We want talking.

So the first to go, obviously, is capital letters. Do we speak in capitals? Certainly not! Besides, thereís that whole Shift key rigmarole. See, typing uppercase characters requires two fingers on the keyboard at the same time. Ouch! Clearly this is inefficient. For the sake of greater speed, letís avoid all capitalization.

And punctuation. We donít really need punctuation either, do we? Itís pretty obvious where sentences end, right? Okay, so maybe we donít use uppercase to begin our sentences, but we can always drop in some extra spaces, or a hyphen. Thatíll work. Letís quit using periods and commas, because theyíre all such a terrible waste of time.

While weíre at it, letís drop greetings and signatures, too. Itís obvious who the writers and readers are. We donít need to open our messages with ďDearĒ and end them with our names. Assumptions are faster. And once weíve dropped the openings and endings, we might as well cut out the middles, too. Letís keep our messages to no more than one paragraph. Even better, I say we establish a two sentence maximum, and keep our sentences as short as possible. The ideal message might be, ďLunch would be great. See you Tuesday at 12.Ē Oh, right. No capitals and periods.

     lunch would be great
     see you tuesday at 12

But even this is too much, canít you see? Whatís with all the whole words? We have abbreviations and shortened versions galore, if weíre willing to use them. And when you donít have a decent abbreviation in mind, just drop vowels. And verbs. And try to use phonetics and pictographs.

     lnch grt - C U tues @ 12

Oh, phooey. Still too long, donít you think? We can cut 5 seconds from our typing time if we use smileys and drop all that extra whitespace.

     lnchJ-CU:Tz@12

Okay, now weíre talking.

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Copyright 2002 Seth Maislin


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