The first e-mail I ever wrote

I sent some e-mail to a few people, including my colleague who was sitting in his desk perhaps three meters away. The adviser thought this was daft.

email-1005x1024Something I had forgotten:

When our work office was first going to get electronic mail, sometime c. 1995, it was all a bit mysterious as to what we would use it for. We all went to some computer lab, where it was explained what it was and how to send it. We were instructed to create messages. One of my colleagues wrote to me, “How did I get here?”, which is the first e-mail I ever received. I replied, “Same as it ever was.”

These, of course, are references to the Talking Heads song Once In A Lifetime, which was then stuck in my head, and now I’m going to stick in YOUR head. (If that link doesn’t work, try this one.)

Some things I remember:

I know we could NOT have gotten to the World Wide Web before January 1995 because our director at the time gave a talk about the Kobe, Japan earthquake, showing what was available on the web. I was annoyed that other offices in our building had email and web access before we did since we had what I felt was a more direct need.

Long before the e-mail etiquette has been codified – no SHOUTING, e.g. – there would be some unpleasantness about the “tone” of a message. There was a real learning curve, with some hurt feelings.

One of the business advisers from one of our outreach centers came to visit us in the central office, c. 1997. Their office did not yet have e-mail; given how ubiquitous it is now, I know that’s hard to believe, but was nevertheless true. I sent some e-mail to a few people, including my colleague who was sitting at his desk perhaps three meters away. The adviser thought this was daft. “He’s right here! Why don’t you just tell him?”
I had a dream the night after the “forgotten” info was revealed to me, and it featured a song giving the days of the week:

It’s Sunday
Monday Tuesday
It’s Wednesday Thursday Friday

I realized the tune was What You See Is What You Get by the Dramatics. Here’s the Soul Train rendition, which cuts off too soon, but is more fun to watch. I’m a sucker for the rolled tongue effect.

Not to be confused with WYSIWYG.

The Dream: The Compliant, Yet Angry Consumer

Trashing the place IS some wish fulfillment from some retail experiences I’ve gone through.

Here is a dream so vivid that I had to get out of bed at 4:10 a.m. to write it down:

I’m at an outdoor market with my sister Leslie. Some saleswoman is trying to sell me eyeglasses. I wasn’t really in the market, but I reluctantly try on a pair. It was quite different from what I usually wear, as they were a bit heavier, but they looked nice, and I decide to buy them. As I’m about to have the sale rung up, I see the computer tablet she’s working on. Somehow she has gotten into the editing section of my blog and has written, “Hey guys, these are my current glasses” with a picture of that. “And these are the glasses I’m thinking about wearing. They are a little bit heavier, but I like them. What do you think?” And there’s a picture of THAT. I say, in a very even tone, “I’m not very happy about that,” pointing to her tablet. Then I make the purchase with some guy as she goes away, but she leaves her tablet on the counter.

I walk behind the counter, get into her tablet, and delete the offending post. Then I take my left hand and, one by one, start throwing can goods (can goods?) down a hill behind the stand, speaking as evenly as I possibly muster. “I don’t think you people understand how upset I am about this invasion of privacy.” Then I take my left arm [I’m right-handed, BTW] and knock over a whole counter’s worth of stuff down that same hill. “THAT is how angry I am. I don’t think you understood. I hope you get it now.”
Now that even-tempered rage I’ve seen in me. But why, after I was upset with my privacy being violated – not to mention how this total stranger so quickly hacked into my blog – would I have bought the glasses? Loss of privacy is a constant concern; I’ll share what I like, thank you, which is quite a bit, I think. Trashing the place IS some wish-fulfillment from some retail experiences I’ve gone through, such as the time I walked into a particular store on the corner of Washington and Lark in Albany and was immediately, and without subtlety, being watched as a potential thief. That store is long gone – there’s a Subway there presently – but it really ticked me off at the time.

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