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Outlook: Email Archives , 1990-2007

Talk at After the Digital Revolution, Loughborough University London, 25-25 January 2018

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Outlook: Email Archives , 1990-2007

  1. 1. Outlook: Email Archives, 1990-2007 After the Digital Revolution, January 2018 James Baker Lecturer in Digital History and Archives @j_w_baker james.baker@sussex.ac.uk This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Exceptions: quotations, embeds from external sources, logos, and marked images.
  2. 2. @j_w_baker james.baker@sussex.ac.uk What have I left out? Please write anything YOU think I should have mentioned. For example I’d like to ask you about electronic mail too as a [sic] know a very few of you begun using it regularly. If you have the time to write about your use of e-mail, and whether it has replaced the use of the telephone for you, I would be most interested Mass Observation Project. 1996 Autumn/Winter Directive.
  3. 3. @j_w_baker james.baker@sussex.ac.uk PRINT EVERYTHING OUT AND STORE IT?! What do you do all day? Flipping heck. I occasionally print some work things out ...I store them in folders on the system. But I have to confess to having printed out a fair few emails from my ex, but lost track of how to file them and so really they’re just filed in my hotmail Mass Observation Project Archive. 2004. O2049, Female, 45, Single, Careers Manager.
  4. 4. @j_w_baker james.baker@sussex.ac.uk There was one piece that I wrote about the reasons why I decided to leave my husband, and I considered that such a significant piece that I printed it and kept is and showed it to my parents (not convinced) and love (likewise) and mainly for myself in case I should forget! However that hangs about, there is no filing system for just a few odd pieces.... Mass Observation Project Archive. 2004. T1843, Female, 55, Caseworker, Disley.
  5. 5. @j_w_baker james.baker@sussex.ac.uk I do wish that I printed more copies of my mail which I have done more of recently. I am keeping a record of the responses to the news of my pregnancy and it made me wish i’d printed out lots more stuff to look back on. Even work related emails. It gives you something to place yourself in time, what happened when and to whom and how you felt. So much detail of our everyday lives is lost through writing e-mail and texts and not notes and letters and small reminders at different times prompt so many other things. Mass Observation Project Archive. 2004. W2959, female, 36, single, Brighton, visual artist.
  6. 6. @j_w_baker james.baker@sussex.ac.uk © author
  7. 7. @j_w_baker james.baker@sussex.ac.uk © author
  8. 8. @j_w_baker james.baker@sussex.ac.uk © author
  9. 9. @j_w_baker james.baker@sussex.ac.uk © author/publisher Naomi S Baron, Alphabet to Email: How Written English Evolved and Where It’s Heading (London; New York: Routledge, 2001), 251 Is this the experience of email that was felt? Is this profile supported by our email archives?
  10. 10. @j_w_baker james.baker@sussex.ac.uk More than a century of familiarity with the telephone appears to have contributed to the increased candor commonly reported in computer mediated encounters such as email or online conferencing, compared with face-to-face exchange Naomi S. Baron, “Language of the Internet,” in The Stanford Handbook for Language Engineers, ed. Ali Farghali (Stanford, Calif: CSLI Publications, 2002), 7 Is this any different from personal papers? What does this mean for the ethics of email use? How much do we need to know about telephone use to study email use?
  11. 11. @j_w_baker james.baker@sussex.ac.uk There is enormous variation in the language style used in email, determined by such variables as age and computer experience of user, function (e.g., replacement for a formal office memo, casual invitation to lunch next week, teenage online flirting). Naomi S. Baron, “Language of the Internet,” in The Stanford Handbook for Language Engineers, ed. Ali Farghali (Stanford, Calif: CSLI Publications, 2002), 12 Can we disentangle these genres of email from the record? How private did people perceive their email to be? What other types of communications did email replace?
  12. 12. @j_w_baker james.baker@sussex.ac.uk The kind of language used in email (sometimes ungrammatical, lacking in standard punctuation or spelling) should not be an issue for natural language processing or search procedures, since such mail is usually only stored on an individual user’s computer (and perhaps, in the case of a company, in the organization’s back-up files), and not the subject of mechanical analysis. Naomi S. Baron, “Language of the Internet,” in The Stanford Handbook for Language Engineers, ed. Ali Farghali (Stanford, Calif: CSLI Publications, 2002), 12 What do these imprecisions mean for our methods of search, discovery, analysis? Is ‘mechanical analysis’ of email the best means of conducting research with email archives?
  13. 13. Outlook: Email Archives, 1990-2007 After the Digital Revolution, January 2018 James Baker Lecturer in Digital History and Archives @j_w_baker james.baker@sussex.ac.uk This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Exceptions: quotations, embeds from external sources, logos, and marked images.

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