January 11, 2013

"Academics Struggle With Managing E-Mail."

Did you just curse out loud? Or are you actually sympathetic with the arduous life of academics?

Meanwhile, Robert Fisk is having trouble with his email. Remember when we used to "fisk" things — when the name "fisk" was a verb like "bork"? I don't see fisking anymore. Did that go out of style on the internet? Am I the first one to notice (and to miss it)? Back in the olden days of blog, we used to cut and paste a whole article and intersperse commentary to produce a long blog post alternating between indented quotes from the fisking victim and unindented attacks from the blogger. If that did indeed go out of style, I'd say it's because it's too easy to do. It's lazy. It could be done really well, but how do readers know this is going to be good? They see the tell-tale signs of fisking — that alternating indenting and unindenting — and they don't bother. The blogger is lazy and the reader is lazy, and suddenly, nothing happens.

Anyway, Fisk's problem with email is a bit more sympathetic than the plight of academics who've simply allowed too many messages to pile up in their in-boxes.
The Islamist cut-throats you sympathise with would gladly slash your pencil neck from ear to ear just because you won’t bow to their bloodthirsty pedophile [sic] prophet.
I think the "[sic]" is there because that's not how you spell "pedophile" in England. Fisk wants something to be done about the scourge of invective. Fisk isn't "sure that anonymous emails kill," but:
Just before Christmas, an Irish minister of state, Shane McEntee, committed suicide after receiving a swath of online hate-mail.
(Will suicides ever be held responsible for the murders they commit?)
Now in the old days, when someone stuffed something abusive in your letter box, you’d be round the cop-shop in no time, brandishing green-ink letters in the face of the station sergeant. Threatening behaviour, at the least. But now, merely to complain about this sort of incendiary material marks you as the oddball....
The cop-shop? Brandishing green-ink letters? I'm sorry, this is all very British. I hope Mr. Fisk survives his terrible struggle with the mail. The academics? The need to quit whining and find the delete key.

54 comments:

sparrow said...

"Will suicides ever be held responsible for the murders they commit?"

I expect they are held accountable immediately and eternally.

Firehand said...

So, what he wants is a way to have the police arrest, or at least threaten to arrest, anyone who sends an e-mail he doesn't like? Because it's 'threatening' or scary or insensitive?

The question, still, is "What the hell happened to (formerly Great)Britain?" I tend to think that their academics used to have more balls than this.
And more integrity

wyo sis said...

The obvious answer is to make suicide illegal. I'll bet it's at least as effective as assault rifle bans.

Quayle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ironrailsironweights said...

The different types of e-mail that I get seem to come in cycles. Three types predominate in the current cycle: (a) shysters trying to get me to join fraudulent lawsuits; (b) single-moms-in-your-area-need-[sexual intercourse], sign-up-for-free-today; and (b) $2,000 deposited in your checking account overnight!
Of course the Nigerian-price and get-a-bigger-tallywhacker e-mails are a constant.

Peter

Mitchell the Bat said...

Email is very convenient for academics but I assume one still needs to get a drop slip signed in person.

Nonapod said...

I used a reverse filter on my email, everything goes into the spam folder unless it's from a person in my contact list. I still have to remember to check my spam folder every so often of course. I've been meaning to try Inky since I hear it has excellent management features.

ndspinelli said...

ironrails, I've been getting hybrid "Get a bigger Nigerian account and johnson" emails.

dbp said...

I would say "fisking" is still worth doing some times. Sometimes it almost seems, compulsory.

Caedmon said...

We spell it paedophile.
The cop shop is the local police station.
Green ink because in the days of hand written letters, a surprising proportion of the crazy letters journalists received were written in green ink, so green ink letters became the name of that diverse genre. I never took mine round to the cop shop. I found the waste-paper basket sufficed.

Pogo said...

Academics Struggle With E-Mail Management

Sounds like something from University Festivus, right after Feats of Diversity.

DADvocate said...

It's threatening to point out the truth about Islamist cut-throats? Interesting. This guy's too big of a wuss to be involved in public debate.

Seeing Red said...

The real world intrudes on an academic's bubble again. Why can't the great unwashed masses understand we only want what's best for them?

Nonapod said...

Caedmon said...
waste-paper basket


What's all this fancy talkin? Where I come from we call it a garbage thingy!

Tim said...

First world problem.

Pogo said...

Piers Morgan is an even bigger weenie than Fisk.

Oh, and when he 'interviewed' Ben Shapiro (editor at Breitbart), he derided the US Constitution.

"MORGAN: -- on the American constitution and the second amendment. It's exactly what you've tried to do. You come in, you brandish your little book, as if I don't know what's in there --

SHAPIRO: My little book? That's the constitution of the United States. It's our founding document, Piers.
"

EMD said...

Caedmon said...
waste-paper basket

What's all this fancy talkin? Where I come from we call it a garbage thingy!


I believe it's a rubbish bin.

edutcher said...

Well, since nasty emails caused Mr McEntee's death, we need to ban email.

PS Peter, you need to rethink where you surf, dude.

Ann Althouse said...

"The obvious answer is to make suicide illegal. I'll bet it's at least as effective as assault rifle bans."

The suicides are dead and have self-administered the death penalty for murder. Fine. But my problem is with the living and their inability to place responsibility on the murderer. It's always society's fault or someone who was mean to the murderer. Some govt official offed himself? He's responsible, not the people who made him so angry he committed murder.

I want that to be known, so that the person about to self-murder doesn't think of it as a way to get revenge on his enemies or to finally get everybody to care about him.

EMD said...

It's not difficult in either Outlook or Entourage to set up Rules for folders that you can move messages to. You can set up filters that would send mail contained particular words directly to the trash.

Fisk is a luddite.

EMD said...

My grammar is deteriorating! "Mail that contains" thankyouverymuch.

Astro said...

I'm surprised at the number of colleges and universities that allow former students and employees to continue to use the institution's email system.
Thus any of these 'formers' could send an email representing themselves as being affiliated with, say, the Univ. of Wisconsin; and if their email address has wisc.edu in it, who would question it? Seems like the potential for fraud is being ignored.

Ann Althouse said...

"Green ink because in the days of hand written letters, a surprising proportion of the crazy letters journalists received were written in green ink, so green ink letters became the name of that diverse genre."

Funny. Back in the days of handwritten exams, I used to include the instruction "use black or dark blue ink" because -- without it -- there would be an occasional student who for some reason -- a desire to look weird? -- would use green or (worse) red. I didn't so much mind purple, but people, if you want your words to be taken seriously, don't handicap yourselves. Write in black or blue... and not some goofball shade of blue.

Remember the old days of Shaeffer cartridge pens? Remember the "peacock blue" cartridges. We girls thought they were so wonderful. There was also the standard blue and "midnight blue."

I wrote all my law school exams with a Penguin fountain pen filled with "fountain india" -- that is really opaque black. I'm not going to concede that I wouldn't have graduated first in my class without it, but I did use it and I did graduate first in my class.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks for the typo warning. I was off getting my flu shot and didn't have time to proof this post after dashing it off.

Corrected.

Astro said...

If only there was a way to convince these suicidal mass-murders to kill themselves first, then kill their intended victims...

Ann Althouse said...

"The obvious answer is to make suicide illegal. I'll bet it's at least as effective as assault rifle bans."

If suicide is illegal, attempted suicide would be illegal. That would be a deterrent.

deborah said...

I would guess it had to do more with your hand-writing.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm surprised at the number of colleges and universities that allow former students and employees to continue to use the institution's email system.
Thus any of these 'formers' could send an email representing themselves as being affiliated with, say, the Univ. of Wisconsin; and if their email address has wisc.edu in it, who would question it? Seems like the potential for fraud is being ignored."

Keeping them in the system makes it super-easy to dun them for donations.

Big upside.

Astro said...

if you want your words to be taken seriously, don't handicap yourselves. Write in black or blue... and not some goofball shade of blue.

Ya' know, that post the other day about Matthew Yglesias would have been just the right time to make replies using Comic Sans.

Ann Althouse said...

"If only there was a way to convince these suicidal mass-murders to kill themselves first, then kill their intended victims..."

Next time you're tempted to feel sorry for a suicide, consider that you may be looking at a case of someone who did exactly that.

Anyone who kills himself may realize that he could have gotten away with any crime on the way out. There was a case here in Wisconsin recently of a woman who stopped her car, left her child in the car, and jumped off a bridge.

Think about it.

Astro said...

Keeping them in the system makes it super-easy to dun them for donations.

Big upside.


Ahhh, good point. It's always about the money.

garage mahal said...

Fisking.

Sullivan took so much glee in attacking war critics, he invented a neologism in the blogger world, "fisking," which describes what happens when a pro-war pundit savages a feeble liberal critic of war, to commemorate what happened when Sullivan savaged leftwing war correspondent Robert Fisk.

Mark Ames is definitely not a fan of Andrew Sullivan.

gerry said...

The need to quit whining and find the delete key.

You are entirely too sensible.

kimsch said...

I once had to hold towels around the wrists of an attempted suicide. It was a "cry for help" attempt since she used a Bic razor in it's plastic casing and cut across the wrist...

I told her she could be charged with attempted murder. She was shocked. I said she'd attempted to murder herself and that attempted murder is a crime...

She actually did some thinking about it and AFAIK she's still amongst the living.

Bob Ellison said...

RE: "the arduous life of academics"-- the 800-pound gorilla in the room is the frequency with which you, Glenn Reynolds, William Jacobson, and other law professors post.

It is not plausible that you are overworked. No, don't get all het up. You just have time on your hands. Admit it. You are not working that hard at your paying job.

Bob Ellison said...

I don't mean to claim that you have complained, Professor. Some folks online complain. I don't think you have. But this is an area where you have to be a little careful.

dbp said...

Althouse said:

"Remember the old days of Shaeffer cartridge pens? Remember the "peacock blue" cartridges. We girls thought they were so wonderful. There was also the standard blue and "midnight blue."

I wrote all my law school exams with a Penguin fountain pen filled with "fountain india" -- that is really opaque black."


Wow! brings back memories. I had a Shaeffer and did try out the peacock blue, but my favorite was brown. As a reward for using one for a whole school year, I purchased a Pelican writing instrument and generally used india ink.

Michael said...

Professor: I hope you have not forsaken your Penguin fountain pen for the keyboard. Even as my handwriting has gone to shit I have tried to keep up the now ancient habit of handwriting thank you notes to friends and clients. Always in the blackest of black inks.I commend to you " the Missing Ink: the lost art of handwriting" which I believe I acquired through your link to Amazon

Michael said...

Professor: I am with you on the subject of suicides. There is no more vile crime. I believe that even under the most extreme pain associated with the passing of life that one should endure what life has dealt out and to experience life to the end whether bitter or happy. I hope I have the courage of my conviction should it come to it. I think I might.

sydney said...

I was going to check out what is happening with academics and their email, but I really don't want to listen to it. Read it, I could, but not listen.

I am prepared to have some sympathy with them, though. I hate the inbox in my electronic medical record with a passion. Used to be other doctors had to pay someone to type up their letters, so they kept the verbiage to a utilitarian minimum. Now they load them up so electronic record generated verbiage that is of no useful information. Have to wade through all kinds of useless crap and many times never find the information I need.

Carol said...

American reporters who cover local crime stories use "cop shop" to refer to a stop on their daily rounds.

SMGalbraith said...

" swath of online hate-mail"

Checking up on this: apparently Minister McEntee proposed cuts in the Irish agricultural/food budget and in protest some Irish citizens made ugly comments on websites about the proposals.

He didn't receive e-mails although a relative did. These were all comments - apparently pretty ugly - made on websites and not sent to him.

SJ said...

@Caedmon,

Green ink because in the days of hand written letters, a surprising proportion of the crazy letters journalists received were written in green ink, so green ink letters became the name of that diverse genre. I never took mine round to the cop shop. I found the waste-paper basket sufficed.


Interesting.

There's a British crime novel (starring a fictional detective named Adam Dalgliesh) in which a blackmailer requested envelopes addressed in green ink, and sent with cash, to the office at which he worked as porter.

That was the first thing that came to mind when I saw "green ink".

It took me a little extra reading before I connected "porter" with "guy who handles mail, among other tasks". And the pool of evidence that led the detective to the blackmailer contained lots of small, not-obviously-related detail.

One thing that made the mystery interesting was that the blackmailer was not the murderer...but detecting the blackmail was necessary to solving the murder.

Green ink has so many uses, including making the handwritten letter distinctive among mail received.

Interesting information. It is likely one of those details that will fade from collective memory as we move away from handwritten notes and physical mail.

Sam L. said...

I just laughed. For 3 minutes. I just recovered.

A number of years ago, Isaac Azimov wrote an article titled "The Sound Of Panting", about the difficulty of keeping up with professional publications. Just faster these days.

Pogo, Fisk has fisking named for him. Morgan has yet to be eponymed as a verb.

A man told me he came home one day and found his wife had blown her head off. Had a gambling jones that ran away with her. Couldn't tell him about it. Suicide can be really hard on the close relatives.

wyo sis said...

I agree that suicides should be held responsible for their actions and be viewed as murderers. I don't think laws restricting speech will change the way people go about suicide any more than restricting guns will change mass killings. People will do what they will do. There are laws regulating how fast we can drive our cars. How many people keep them?
In the case of attempted suicides that are done for the sake of getting attention will a law really deter that? I know kids will freely disobey rules to get attention in school. They make the calculation that the attention they get is worth the possible consequence.

barribarri said...

"Will suicides ever be held responsible for the murders they commit?"

Who are you asking?

Is God a frequent commenter here?


Truth is, you MEANT that question exactly as you wrote it, didn't you?

And you weren't talking about responsibility in the sense of eternal judgment, either.

You were very seriously asking if your readers thought that society and the law would ever hold SUICIDES legally and ethically responsible .... for killing themselves.

Deny it as you like. If, even now, you can figure out what's wrong with the question.

Have you had a CAT Scan or MRI of your head lately?

Michael said...

barribarri: I believe you will find that the professor is considerably smarter than you think she is and therefor should consider the temper of what you write. I believe the professor, should you read what she wrote, was making the case that society tends to cast suicides as victims and that their suicides were unavoidable under the circumstance and entirely understandable and forgivable. Your observation is an excellent one, however, for a fifth grader.

Ann Althouse said...

"Sullivan took so much glee in attacking war critics, he invented a neologism in the blogger world, "fisking," which describes what happens when a pro-war pundit savages a feeble liberal critic of war, to commemorate what happened when Sullivan savaged leftwing war correspondent Robert Fisk."

1. That person doesn't define "fisking" properly.

2. I don't think Sullivan coined the term. I think it was Instapundit. (I'm trying to find out.)

deborah said...

SJ, a coincidence that I was earlier thinking of posting about 'poisen pen' letters, which I learned about from a Dalgliesh novel. They are anonymous, insulting letters to people.

deborah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shana said...

I've heard cop-shop used by locals, including male family members, here in Texas. I had no idea that was a Britishism.

Crunchy Frog said...

Only dude I knew personally who killed himself was the POS that was in the habit of beating the crap out of my mother-in-law on a regular basis. She finally screwed up the courage to split town, and he took a shotgun to his skull three weeks after. It was his greatest gift to humanity.

Only drawback was that her bed was ruined. C'est la vie.

30yearProf said...

My university just "migrated" from one e-mail program to another. I suspect that I'll be retired before I find all my e-mails in the archives. And my correspondents may think I've died.

Programmers do not use the same logic trees as the rest of us. Ugly.

Sam L. said...

From Wikipedia: "Origin

"Fisking" was coined by bloggers in December 2001, following a three-paragraph response by Andrew Sullivan[7] to an article Fisk wrote for The Independent on Sunday earlier that month. In the piece, Fisk recounted a beating which he received at the hands of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and said that, given their experiences, which included having recently lost relatives in a B52 bombing and having seen television footage of the massacre of prisoners at Mazar-i-Sharif, he could understand why they would have treated him or any other westerner that way and that, in their position, he would have behaved similarly.[8] Sullivan quoted and responded to passages from the Fisk piece, but not in a complete, line-by-line format. He described Fisk's excusal of his attackers as a form of left-wing racism.[7] The term fisking was first applied soon after on Instapundit and Sullivan's blog.[citation needed] Sullivan subsequently used the term on at least one other occasion, critiquing The Washington Post's critique of Sen. Chuck Hagel as a potential replacement for Leon Panetta as United States Secretary of Defense in December 2012.[9]"