The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Orlean’s Communications Fatigue and Bang!Bang!Bang!

Paul, · Categories: #noemail, General

The Orchid Thief
Orchid Thief author and New Yorker writer, Susan Orlean, can’t schedule a dinner with Buster and blames too many channels of communications ending with “Since when was communication so exhausting?”

I’ve got no problem with the number of choices for doing different things. I only want to divest in the least efficient and most annoying channels — starting with email.

email has always been a Rube Goldberg operation. In the early days of Usenet and UUCP — before BITNET or a well-connected ARPAnet, sysadmins had to collect and share tables not just of known hosts but also of known routes. If you didn’t know a good route to another computer on the net or had a slack sysadmin, you were stuck. If you did know and perhaps knew better than your sysadmin, you could explicitly specify the route of your mail in the address by means of Bangs! aka !. Here’s an example of such an explicit route address from Wikipedia:


In earlier days, there would be no — in fact no .com at all. Those were a simpler and for some a happier time. Not for me! I’m ready to move on from email!!! email has been too banged up for too long.

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