English 456: C20 Criticism and Theory

Email and the Internet, by Al Drake

Al Drake | Cyber Cafe | Thurs. 6-7 | 714-434-1612

Email: Five years ago, a fair number of students didn't have email accounts or didn't really use them if they had them. But things are changing, and now almost everyone, except a few cigar-chomping old-fashioned senior professors, has an email account and knows how to use it. Don't hesitate to use email--it is a remarkable new means of miscommunication. Okay, Wildean quips aside, here are a few notes:

1. Type e456 in the subject line of every email you send me--that way, your mail will be routed to a special folder in my inbox and I won't have to make a huge filter item that includes the name of everyone in the class. In fact, the subject line method is better because people sometimes send mail from different accounts than the ones they initially provide me.

2. If you have one of those free Hotmail type accounts, be aware that they allot you a limited amount of storage space. You need to delete old messages before your inbox fills up and they stop delivering your email.

3. Check your "Trash" folder before you delete mail. I have had students insist that they never received some document, only to hear later that they found it in their "Trash" folder. Sometimes important mail will get routed to the trash as if it were spam promising you incredible sexual vitality or a free vacation in Tierra del Fuego.

4. Learn to use Netscape "filters" or MS Outlook "rules." You can route mail with specified subject headers or mail from specified addresses to whatever folder you create for that kind of mail. For example, you could create a folder called "FF100" and send any mail that comes from "ajdrake@ajdrake.com" or to "FF100 participants" to the FF100 folder. That way, you are sure to notice important communications pertaining to the course. Just check the help files for the email program you use, and you will see how this can be done.

5. Please refresh your pages regularly by hitting the "reload" button on your browser's menu strip. Better yet, while you do that, hold down the "alt" key to refresh the page fully. That way, you will be able to see the latest version of the page, not an old copy stored on your browser.

The Internet: People complain that there's too much stuff out there--what's a body to do with all that "useless information, supposed to fire my imagination"? Still, you can get some satisfaction from the net these days. Perhaps it's true that 90% of everything is trash, but the other 10% is worth looking at. Use search engines like Copernic or Dogpile or Google, and see what you can find. If you have a recent browser, just typing something in your address bar should bring up search results. But I know how frustrating information overload can be when you're pressed for time, so for each author, our Guides page links to an "offsite materials" page that in turn will link you to a limited number of offsite materials. I have personally reviewed at least part of every site listed, and have found the material worth recommending. So I'll play Virgil the guide to your Dante the pilgrim--have a look at these sites as time permits. The offsite materials are obviously not required reading, but you'll find good tips, diagrams, study guides, and so forth: these things can provide food for thought and valuable insights that can enhance your experience with our assigned texts. As a teacher who actually likes computing and the internet, I am willing to admit that the universe does not revolve around my efforts and interpretations -- other people have done excellent work, so why not pass along a little bit of what is available? Just remember that if you use the stuff you find as source material, you should treat it like any other source material, giving credit where credit is due. On that issue, see the bottom section of my Advice page.