Homework for talking about email

Email has been around since 1971, when a researcher sent a message to another researcher on a different computer across a network. The two machines were right next to each other, which is oddly similar to things we see today, such as two family members sending email messages to each other from different rooms in the same house, or even different ends of the same couch.

While incredibly useful, email is also very dangerous, as it has been used to end relationships and marriages, start gang wars, manipulate people for political ends, and commit outright crimes. It also has another dark side, which is email’s role in some of the darker aspects of social media.

In preparation for the September 21, 2021 meeting, it would be advantageous if participants did some homework. A short interview with a CBS News editor who has research “dark patterns” will take only about six minutes of your time, and you can view it on either YouTube or the CBS News site:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/manipulative-advertising-technology-dark-patterns/

The second piece of homework requires more of a commitment, as it is a one hour, 33 minute documentary titled “The Social Dilemma.” It is available on Netflix, via your phone, computer, Apple TV, or smart TV app. If you aren’t a Netflix subscriber, it is also available, until the end of September 2021, on YouTube, for free:

You can also read about this award-winning documentary on their website,

While you might think that neither of these video pieces has anything to do with email, many of the problems presented are founded in how email (and the web) work, and watching these two videos will give you a better understanding of why you should prune, sort, delete, archive, and generally treat email as a useful but unruly plant rather than simply a tool.

Give both videos a close look. They are definitely not boring.

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