Essay: E-mail and the New Epistolary Age; April 1994; Scientific American Magazine; by Eisenberg; 1 Page(s)
During the past few years, scientists the world over have suddenly found themselves productively engaged in a task they once spent their lives avoiding--writing, any kind of writing, but particularly letter writing. Lured by electronic mail's seductive blend of speed, convenience and economy, people who never before touched the stuff are routinely, skillfully, even cheerfully tapping out a great deal of correspondence.
It's the new, inadvertent epistolary age. Electronic networks, woven into the fabric of scientific communication these days, are the route to colleagues in distant countries, shared data, bulletin boards and electronic journals. Anyone with a PC, a modem and the software to link computers over telephone lines can sign on. An estimated four million scientists have done so, with more joining every day, most of them communicating through a skein of interconnected domestic and foreign routes known collectively as the Internet, or net.