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An effusion on email

Greg Lefevre

By Greg Lefevre
CNN San Francisco Bureau Chief

January 6, 2000
Web posted at: 10:10 a.m. EST (1510 GMT)

This news analysis was written for CNN Interactive.

musings at the millennium

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- "You've got mail!"

Boy, do I. If the stuff that comes over my electronic transom could be measured in weight, it would fill a large truck. Long after the holidays, I'm still answering email from friends and relatives, and even a few strangers. The friends and relatives write me about nephews, births and news stories. Some of the strangers want money.

I don't mind all the email. I like email. I hear from people whom I haven't heard from in years.

Email is somewhere between calling on the telephone and writing a letter. It's convenient like the first and literate like the second.

Constance Hale, who edited "Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age," a guide to literacy on the Internet, lauds email as the modern world's return to the world of words: "I believe that email is a boon to communication."

There's more, Hale says: "People are writing today where they would have been telephoning yesterday."

Who has time to phone these days? My voice mail box is sometimes stuffed more than my email inbox.

That's the cool part, Hale says. People are taking the time to sit and think to compose their writings. "People are engaged with words more than they have for the last couple generations."

Personally, I like email because it's a conversation that gets right to the point.

I reported for a Texas television station for awhile a few years back, and it used to drive me crazy to call on some of my sources. First, there would be this 10-minute conversation over iced tea that went something like: "How y'all. How's y'all's dog?"

more musings

The best writing tool I ever got was a computer. Write the story. Massage it. Tweak it all you want. Then send it in.

Email is the same way: Work on a draft while doing something else, go back a time or two and voila! a missive, direct and succinct.

But no, I won't send money.

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