[mailhist-discuss] Definition of email

Thomas Haigh thaigh at computer.org
Thu Jun 7 08:22:16 PDT 2012


Nice, but perhaps we can drop "the user of." The email might be
automatically generated by a computer program, or someone might have hacked
the account (I guess you could say they were still the user). For example,
when I get an email shipping confirmation from Amazon it's not coming from a
user. Likewise the mailbox receiving the message might be institutional
rather than personal, or belong to a computer program.

 

Also, the "computer"s in the first sentence seem redundant. On reflection,
"provided by computer programs" is probably unnecessary too.

 

"Analogous to a physical letter" is the least precise part. Maybe we can
figure out what we actually mean by this.

 

Hence

 

Electronic mail (Email) is a service to send messages from one computer
account to the mailbox(es) of other accounts for later retrieval.  An
electronic mail message consists of packaged data, analogous to a physical
letter, specifying one or more authors and one or more recipients.

 

Tom

 

From: mailhist-discuss-bounces at emailhistory.org
[mailto:mailhist-discuss-bounces at emailhistory.org] On Behalf Of Terry Gray
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2012 10:07 AM
To: Dave Crocker
Cc: mailhist-discuss at emailhistory.org
Subject: Re: [mailhist-discuss] Definition of email

 

slight mod, v2:

 

Electronic mail (Email) is a service provided by computer programs to send
messages from the user of one computer account to the personal mailbox(es)
of others for later retrieval.  An electronic mail message consists of
packaged data, analogous to a physical letter, specifying one or more
authors and one or more recipients.

-teg



On Thu, Jun 7, 2012 at 7:55 AM, Terry Gray <gray at uw.edu> wrote:

In the spirit of compromise, here is a potential hybrid:

 

Electronic mail (Email) is a service provided by computer programs to send
messages from the user of one computer account to the personal mailbox(es)
of others for later retrieval.  An electronic mail message consists of
packaged data, analogous to a physical letter, from one or more authors to
one or more recipients.



-teg



On Thu, Jun 7, 2012 at 1:11 AM, Dave Crocker <dcrocker at gmail.com> wrote:


On 6/5/2012 9:01 PM, Jack Haverty wrote:
> Someday, electronic mail might be invented.  It hasn't happened yet.


Jack's note nicely highlights the challenge we face, in distinguishing
between the abstract ideal versus something less lofty but more current
and (widely) used.

We have two definitions offered:

   Haigh:

      Electronic mail is a service provided by computer programs to send
unstructured textual messages of about the same length as paper letters
from the account of one user to recipients' personal electronic
mailboxes, where they are stored for later retrieval.

   Crocker, as modified:

      An electronic message (email) is a collection of data, packaged
to specify one or more authors, addressed to one or more recipients and
stored for later access by recipients.


(While Jack's note provides some nice background and guidance, I
couldn't extract an actual definition.)


Although related, the definitions have significant differences.

Can we get some discussion seeking to converge on a single definition?


d/
--
 Dave Crocker
 bbiw.net
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