[Marxism] Postdating Email: From Leno To "Luxemburgists"

Jeff Rubard jeffrubard at fusemail.com
Thu Mar 25 18:58:04 MST 2004

I was told today that the inventor of email (Ray Tomlinson, I believe) was
recently on Jay Leno encouraging people to "postdate" their emails -- that
is to say, "lock" replies to said email until a certain time.  The pitch
was that those who live at terminals less exciting than Bloomberg's ought
to spend a little time away from the cathode tube; and this is true
enough, but I heard that he "couldn't say" where he was employed at NASA
and for those who maintain something of an interest in the way small
interactional networks mesh with society at large I'll say a little
something in favor of this practice.  This is a former mailman, who would
know that there are reasons why US mail doesn't travel absolutely as fast
as it could and never has: really, the prices and services of the USPS
were designed to enable social networks of communication "a cut below"
those of private parcel companies.

Really, what the man was inviting people to do was "to postalize", almost
in the traditional sense (that of nationalizing industry).  To take an
endeavor of yours and treat it as demanding of less than total, instant
attention is to change the "frame of reference" within which you are
acting: that is to say, to attempt to play a different "game" than
Executive Summarizer.  The tools for understanding the social effects of
such a practice are provided by "structural-functionalist" (Parsonsonian)
sociology, and if this seems dubiously materialist let me say that on such
an understanding what one is doing in "obsoleting" a particular
response-time to an email
is highlighting that email's *content* -- that is to say, almost
mechanically making it out to be more post than riposte (in terms of the
"strategic" responses it permits) -- and if one systematically employs
such practices, a new level of communication "falls out" whereupon one is
speaking to a particular interest rather than a particular person.  I.e.,
such things (as are not unknown to those reading) are mechanisms of
"publicity" such as *constitute* the journalistic field; and as such I
will let the "faithful" draw their own conclusions to their political


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