File /Humanist.vol22.txt, message 261


Date:         Wed, 15 Oct 2008 06:31:33 +0100
From: Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty-AT-MCCARTY.ORG.UK>
Subject: 22.271 a plea for brevity in signatures
To: humanist-AT-Princeton.EDU


               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 271.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
  www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/humanities/cch/research/publications/humanist.html
                        www.princeton.edu/humanist/
                     Submit to: humanist-AT-princeton.edu



         Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2008 06:27:59 +0100
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty-AT-mccarty.org.uk>
         Subject: a plea for brevity in signatures

Dear colleagues,

Among the features of messages that are impossible to fix via software
and impolite to fix manually are verbose signatures. Allow me, if you
will, to recommend that they be as short as possible while still saying
what needs to be said.

Take, for example, my own:

> Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing, King's College
  > London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/; Editor, Interdisciplinary
  > Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org/.

Arguably, if I were inclined to be laconic, I'd abbreviate this to

  > Willard McCarty, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/.

which in one link gets everything, actually. But because clicks require
time and effort, which not everyone with whom I wish to communicate has
to spend or is willing to do so, I add the rest, which seems to me at
the moment to be important for a good First Impression. The result is,

> Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing, King's College
> London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/; Editor, Interdisciplinary
> Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org/.

What I am writing now to suggest tends to make less than a good
First Impression, because it takes up so much space, might
be, in my case, something like this:

> Willard McCarty, MA (Portland), PhD (Toronto)
> Professor of Humanities Computing
> http://staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/
> landline: +44 (0)20 7848-2784 
> mobile: +44 (0)7703 568798
> 
> 
> Centre for Computing in the Humanities
> King's College London
> 26-29 Drury Lane
> London WC2B 5RL
> U.K.
> http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/humanities/depts/cch/
> 
> Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
> http://www.isr-journal.org/
> 
> Editor, Humanist
 > http://www.princeton.edu/humanist/

Let's say that I write to Humanist with a short message about something
or other. (Ok, I seldom if ever write SHORT messages to Humanist :-) My
signature then tends to suggest that I think that my contact details
(and so by implication, I MYSELF) are far more important than whatever
it is I have to say. Is it *ever* the case for one of us that this is
true or we want it to be true?

I suppose, however, that the Devil is trickier than to be outwitted by
laconicity. After all, Milton had him saying to an angel on sentry duty
who challenged him, "Not to know me argues yourself unknown." But, then,
perhaps all we can do anything about is style.

Yours,
WM


   

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