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Subject:e-mail From:Ellen Adams <ellena -at- TOLSTOY -dot- SC -dot- TI -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 18 Nov 1994 13:51:42 CST
Chris Miller (cmmiller -at- brahms -dot- udel -dot- edu) says: I am writing a short paper for my
Rhetoric class on electronic text. Will you answer some questions about e-
As a technical writer for 7 years using various e-mail systems,
I have discovered:
* Do people use a less formal writing style using e-mail?
E-mail, perhaps because it is often destined only for electrons
and not hard copy, is considered by many to be less formal than
printed letters and memorandums. Therefore, e-mailers tend to be more
casual in their grammar, punctuation and presentation.
* Is a less formal style indicative of a less formal function?
E-mail's importance depends largely on the individual corporate culture. Highly
automated shops with expansive in-house e-mail systems and external
internet gateways tend to put a higher importance on e-mail than do
businesses with small, internal e-mail systems. At most corporations, e-
mail functions much like a telephone call. It is not formal enough on which
to stake one's reputation. "Oh, you didn't hear about the meeting?
I sent you e-mail, though...."
E-mail doesn't have the immediacy of a phone call, but it's far more useful for
setting meeting schedules and clutters the office less than printed
memorandums,itineraries, schedules and letters.
Since e-mail systems are different, and offer different options,
there is not one standard for e-mail communication.
* What are those little faces called? :-)
Those little faces are called "emoticons" or "smileys."
* Is a less formal style encroaching on the more traditional
methods of communication such as letters, memos and
Communication is simply becoming more specialized.
Just as smoke signaling evolved into wide-area computer networking,
so has the Pony Express evolved into e-mail.
* For instance have spelling and grammar suffered?
We are perhaps more conscious now of our spelling errors, when our e-mail
recipients point them out to us. And e-mail systems are becoming more
sophisticated and are offering functions like spelling and grammar checkers.
* Is e-mail replacing memos? Telephone calls? Or has e-mail formed its own niche
in business communication?
Certainly the sellers of electronic mail software will tell you it has carved
out a quite profitable niche within the business communication industry. But,
in my humble opinion, it will never replace telephone calls or memos.
ellena -at- tolstoy -dot- sc -dot- ti -dot- com