[mailhist-discuss] Definition of email

Suzanne Johnson fuhn at pobox.com
Thu Jun 7 12:10:57 PDT 2012


In reading the working definition, I'm reading that the "packaged 
data" is about authors and recipients.  What about the "information" 
that a typical letter might include?

Also, in working with users new to electronic mail, I always found it 
most useful to ask them if they had ever sent or received an 
inter-office memo.  Even if they had never learned to type 
themselves, they immediately understood how they could use email with 
the "inter-office memo" analogy.

I think finding a means to define email without using a term like 
"packaged data" would be optimal if we are looking to define email to 
the widest possible audience.
    --Suzanne

>
>An electronic mail message consists of packaged data, analogous to a 
>physical letter, specifying one or more authors and one or more 
>recipients.


At 10:22 AM -0500 6/7/12, Thomas Haigh wrote:
>Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
>	boundary="----=_NextPart_000_0059_01CD4497.69DF8860"
>Content-Language: en-us
>
>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 
><<mailto:gray at uw.edu>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 
><<mailto:dcrocker at gmail.com>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
>  <http://bbiw.net>bbiw.net
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