File /Humanist.vol22.txt, message 271

Date:         Sat, 18 Oct 2008 08:41:53 +0100
From: Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty-AT-MCCARTY.ORG.UK>
Subject: 22.281 why signatures, why brevity in them
To: humanist-AT-Princeton.EDU

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 281.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to:

   [1]   From:    Humanist Discussion Group                           97)
         Subject: Re: 22.277 why signatures?

   [2]   From:    Humanist Discussion Group                          101)
         Subject: Re: 22.277 why brevity

         Date: Sat, 18 Oct 2008 08:32:49 +0100
         From: Humanist Discussion Group <>
         Subject: Re: 22.277 why signatures?

Ian Hacking, on a brilliant article entitled Genetics, Biosocial Groups
and the Future of Identity
addresses the genetic signatures and challenges of biosociality, and how
much his own assessment of others depended on somehow knowing their

"I realized how much I depend on knowing to whom I am speaking. I had no
reason to think that the respondent was female, thirty, or Chinese. Yet,
I wanted to know 'who' she was–and the same for a number of others. But
they were rejecting that question. Refusing to choose a society or a
biology, they were denying in every gesture the very concept of a
biosocial identity." (op.cit., 95)

I must say I would belong to the group that would choose either a brief
signature or no signature at all, not because of any digital inclusion
concerns, but simply because it seems appropriate to the spirit of this
age to "deny in every gesture the very concept of a (cyber)social identity".

So signatures are also a matter of style...

Renata Lemos

/teacher, student, mother.///

         Date: Sat, 18 Oct 2008 08:33:37 +0100
         From: Humanist Discussion Group <>
         Subject: Re: 22.277 why brevity
         In-Reply-To: <>

     Not to prolong a minor issue, I take some exception to the tone of
Michael Hart's message about signature blocks.  First of all, I trust
that my closing comments about video signatures was recognized as a joke
(if someone objected to extra text then a video would clearly be an
anathema).  But I object to being characterized as someone uncaring
about the plight of the dis-enfranchised on the other side of the
digital divide, just because I made a case for including a few dozen
extra characters of text in a message.  I am not that long from using a
dial-up connection at home not to realize that bandwidth is a resource.
But on the other hand, in a world increasingly dominated by the likes of
YouTube, to suggest that the Net is being brought down by my telephone
number is not a helpful tack to take.  Since I don't have a telephone
book for every part of the country and since many people don't have Mr.
Hart's on-line presence (good job with Project Gutenberg, by the way!),
the ability to quickly call up a previous email and find a colleague's
direct number within their institutional bureaucracy is very beneficial,
I think, and worth the risk of destroying the Internet as we'd like it
to be.


Bill Barrow

Visit our Cleveland Memory Project (

Special Collections Librarian
Cleveland State University Library
2121 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115
(216) 687-6998 (office)
(216) 687-2449 (Special Collections)
(216) 687-2383 (fax)

                    Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 277.
            Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                          Submit to:

              Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2008 06:36:27 +0100
              From: Humanist Discussion Group 

     In reply to several comments, including Bill Barrow's:

     Not everyone has the kind of bandwidth you so obviously enjoy.

     I suppose an entire series of articles could/should be written
     to explain the differences between those who still use dialup,
     who are charged by the byte, etc., and those living so high on
     the hog, or so high on the upper crust,
      that they should never
     think of those who live on the other side of the tracks, world
     or whatever Digitial Divider.

     I used to have a friend who included a short little video as an
     kind of introduction, but even the hardcore Geeks asked him not
     to include that in emails to them, or even on his web pages, at
     least not without clicking on it to turn it on.

     For those of us who live without broadband connections, this is
     a plain enough concern.  For those who cannot conceive of world
     populations without broadband, this is possibly inconceivable--
     even with such feedback from the other side of the tracks.

     After all, unless your child falls for a person from "the other
     side of the tracks," most people around here are not concerned.

     As for your desire to call people on the phone, I must admit it
     that I prefer email to phone calls simply because it is so much
     more efficient.  I can do other things
      while I am emailing, but
     not so much while I am on the phone, and email leaves me a nice
     record of the conversation in case we want to bring someone new
     into the conversation, we can instantly bring them up to date--
     completely, accurately, and without straining our memories.

     My proposed solution:

     Have several signature blocks.

     Use the longest one sparingly.  Perhaps in your first message a
     person receives directly from you, even perhaps with a line for
     asking them to save your contact information.  For listservers,
     when hundreds of people receive every character you send, it is
     so much more wasteful, and so much more guaranteed that you are
     sending to someone with limited bandwidth, such as myself.

     I don't like applying any pressure on this sort of thing, quite
     the opposite, I don't approve of peer group pressure at all.

     However, you may not consider those people without bandwidth
     peers, or even worthy of consideration.

     However, I, myself, who am in constant email communication with
     people living in portions of the world with limited bandwidths,
     and by the byte charges, have heard from them just how much the
     whole thing can be a load on their capabilities, a load that we
     may hardly notice at all, even myself.

     After all, even though I am on a dialup, I still send & receive
     entire books via email all the time, and some still remind me a
     few times how much that takes out of their systems.

     Some of them even prefer to send CDs and DVDs via snailmail for
     getting their eBook contributions online, as with 307 eBooks we
     just received from half way around the world.

     Just for the record, and since I haven't sent it here for ages,
     here is my longest signature block, and even it does not have a
     phone number, simply because I am not encouraging phone calls--
     but I am in the
      phone books, and it's easy to Google me to find
     out where I live and work.

     Thank you for your time and consideration!!!

     Give the world eBooks for 2008!!!

     Michael S. Hart
     Project Gutenberg
     Inventor of eBooks


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