Session II: Internet Email

       The most common use of the Internet today is the use of e-mail. Most people find e-mail more convenient than the telephone for many kinds of communications. For example, with e-mail you never have to play "telephone tag". The recipient of your mail can read your message at their convenience and respond. In many cases, a response may only require a few words, saving time. E-mail also allows you to send attachments such as word processor documents, spreadsheets, images, programs, etc. This often makes more sense than faxing, since you cannot edit a fax document.

       This slide show the syntax of an e-mail address. On the right hand side is the domain name of the user's e-mail server. Sometimes this domain name will include a host name as well. On the left hand side is the user's userID on the system. These two components are always separated by an "@" character. Each e-mail address is unique among the Internet's over 40 million e-mail users.

       A few comments about e-mail Netiquette are in order. First of all, be sure you want to send your message. E-mail can get stored on servers or user machines for a long time. In fact, this was one of the ways that Ollie North and others were implicated in the Iran-contra affair. Also, it is often difficult to convey the subtleties of speech in written from. Therefore, be careful when using sarcasm and the like. Some people find using emoticons helpful (which I will mention shortly). Another fact that new users are often unaware of is that using all capital letters is seen as shouting on the Internet. So...if you want to shout, by all means use capitals, but otherwise standard typing is recommended. Finally, although many e-mail programs are beginning to support formatting of e-mail messages (bold, italic, bullets, colors, etc.), it is not recommended that you use them unless you are certain that the recipient of your message supports them. This type of formatting can insert some very strange characters into your message that may make it difficult to read for some people.

       This slide shows a few emoticons and acronyms commonly used on the Internet. The first one is a smiley face turned on tie's side made by typing a colon, a dash, and a right parenthesis character. There are actually books filled with emoticons and acronyms if you are interested in learning more, however, these will get you started.

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