Here’s a question for you: Who was the first person in human history to
give up e-mail? Don Knuth seems to be a pretty good candidate. According
to his website (yes, he has a website though not an e-mail
address–go figure) he has had no e-mail address since January 1, 1990,
having previously lived by e-mail for 15 years. How many Americans had even
HEARD of e-mail in January 1990?
I mention this because I am contemplating it myself. My e-mail is totally
out of control, I admit it. Trawling through my inbox this morning, I
discovered an invitation to appear on a radio show last week, that had
somehow got lost in the pile. It would be nice to think I have so many
opportunities to publicize myself that I could afford to ignore the odd
radio slot, but this is very far from being the case. I need this stuff.
Yet there it is, lost in the pile. I can’t even say “pile of dross,”
either–most of the stuff it got lost among is matter that I really should
deal with. At some point in the last few weeks, though, it all got out of
control. Now when I look at my inbox I am overcome by the wellnigh
irresistible urge to go upstairs and pull the bed-covers over my head.
All of which is by way of saying that if I owe you an e-mail, it may be a
[NB: Knuth also favors dropping the hyphen in "e-mail." I remember doing
this myself about 5 yrs ago... but then getting to think that it just didn't
LOOK right, and re-instating the hyphen. Knuth is right on logic--as he
darn well should be, having written the ultimate multi-volume text on
computer programming--but wrong on esthetics.]