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E-mail revives art of letter writing

If technological advances in communications are going to mean anything, we have to use the tools that are the result of those advances.

A case in point is e-mail. You can debate whether the art of letter writing has faded because of our use of the telephone, the pace of modern life, or a combination of these and other factors over during 20th century. But as we approach the 21st century, I believe that art has been revived by the introduction of e-mail.

Mark J. Roy

(That these messages usually end up in the electronic dustbin is a concern. Unless we all print or save-to-file our messages, historians will lose a valuable - relatively speaking - piece of the archive of daily life.)

Personal experience is the test: monthly - sometimes weekly - I have e-mail exchanges with friends to whom I have not sent (or received) a written letter or note in, yes, decades. And daily I post dozens of messages to make contacts, confirm appointments, and pass along information within the University, much of which was done previously with the telephone.

Personal communication aside, there is great value to an e-mail tool known as LISTSERV®. Through the email list, you can subscribe to e-mail lists in which you share information about common interests with others. Posting a message to the list means that everyone on the subscription list can read your message. Thoughts, opinions, suggestions and other comments are shared by all. A subscriber has the option of responding to the entire list or only to the sender of a particular message.

UConn has many email lists for a variety of topics. A useful and active list, launched near the end of the spring semester, is UCFORUM-L. It "was established to facilitate discussion of significant issues facing the University community. It is open to all faculty, staff, administrators, and students at the University of Connecticut. It is an unmoderated list, which means the list owners neither initiate, control, nor censor the discussion" (quoted from the UCFORUM-L policies and guidelines).

The list is open to anyone in the domain - faculty, staff, administrators, graduate and undergraduate students. More than 380 people now subscribe to this list, carrying on discussions about UConn's ranking in U.S. News & World Report, the status of campus recycling, various matters regarding graduate assistants, new parking regulations, and UConn's evolution as a community.

In the discussion about the last item came the suggestion that resulted in the Husky Haulers - faculty and staff volunteering to help incoming freshmen move into their dorms. In less than 24 hours, it went from being a suggestion to being a coordinated plan for what is surely now an annual undertaking. Subsequent discussion on the list has included recommendations for improvements.

To be included in the list, send an e-mail message and type the following in the TO: field

Leave the subject field blank. In the message box, type the following (an underline denotes a space between words):

subscribe_ucforum-l_your name

and substitute your first and last name for the words "your name".

An easy way to subscribe - and to learn much more about email lists - is to go to UConn's listserve homepage which includes a form for subscribing.