This message was sent from me to you.

I'll admit it - I haven't lived a perfect life. I've said some things I may regret, and remained quiet at times when I should've spoken up. I've made some wrong decisions, some missteps, and in hindsight, haven't always handled things the way I should've. Hell, just a few weeks ago I 'accidentally' took a liberal bite out of a cashiers' lunch at a local food market, mistaking it for a free sample. I once wore this sweater to a blind date:

ugly sweater

That's mustard yellow. It was definitely purchased at either Kmart or Zellers, probably on sale, and - if memory serves - is possibly one half of a two-piece jogging outfit.

For all my lapses in judgement, however severe they may have been, there is one thing I've been steadfast about, never compromised or wavered on:

I HAVE NEVER SIGNED AN EMAIL WITH THE NAME OF THE DEVICE USED TO WRITE IT.

Well, not willfully, at least.

I had the misfortune of becoming the owner of a Blackberry Storm mobile phone for a few months this year, due to the slowly failing health of my stalwart, 7-year-old Nokia 7610.

The Blackberry was no cup of tea. It would lock up constantly. Every time it was charged, the touch screen would refuse to work until its battery was ripped out and replaced. Combined with the abysmal service provided by the least-abysmal mobile carrier I've tried so far in Canada, it was, shall we say, not the most pleasant of experiences. The nail in the coffin, however, came when I set up email access on the phone, and sent myself a test email message. The signature of the message read:

Sent from my Blackberry on the Rogers wireless network.

Now, though technically I am on the "Rogers wireless network" via Fido, I don't necessarily want to advertise that. Nor do I remember receiving any compensation from either Rogers or Research In Motion to hawk advertise their products to my friends and colleagues. For a long time I dismissed the usual "Sent via/using my [WIRELESS DEVICE] on [NAME OF PROVIDER'S] wireless network" signature as simple omission-by-naivete by technically-unsavvy but otherwise likeable and well-meaning folk who simply don't know how (or why) to remove that default signature from their mobile device. However, as time went by, I started seeing more and more of these messages / advertisements for Verizon, Apple and Research In Motion flooding my Inbox, originating from people I know and love, and who should also simply know better. To drive my point across I tried my hand at the game of subtlety, using tactics like ending every voice call with "Sounds good - have a nice day! Bye... This call was brought to you by my Blackberry Storm on the Fido Wireless Network" or telling friends that I'll pick them up in my "2007 Saab 9-3 Sports Sedan" instead of "my car". Few caught on, and I slowly abandoned hope. It is, for all intents and purposes, still largely abandoned.

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Although the Internet is rife with opinion on whether or not it makes sense to include a notice to your recipient(s) that you're using a mobile device, let me cut through the chaff for you: it doesn't. The only translation I can make out for "Sent from my iPhone" is "Hey twerp! I have an iPhone and you don't. Booya!" Sure, it lets folks know that you're writing from a mobile device and therefore can't write a lengthy reply / avoid spelling errors / walk and chew gum simultaneously, but this just makes mobile email the latest culprit in the long list of perpetrators responsible for the dumbing-down of interpersonal communication online. If you can't take the time to write a legible, well-worded email to someone because you're 'on the go' (lame), 'in a meeting' (lamer) or 'in between flights' (lamest), do everyone a favor and just wait until you get back in front of your computer to reply. The ________ [fill in your language] language will thank you for it.

Mobile email can be a great thing in the hands of someone who knows how to use it when you understand its limitations. In a world where LOLs, GTGs, TTYLs and BRBs, are increasingly common, the intrinsic value of a well-written, legible and thoughtful message is rising exponentially. I don't make the rules, but I should, and if I did, there would be a minimum level of coherence and cohesion for an email message to make it all the way across the Internet, lest it break apart somewhere between its origin and its destination. It's a new take on the ole' "Don't bring a knife to a gunfight" adage... "Don't, errrr, bring a, uhhhh, mobile device, to, umm, a computer network, or something." Or something.

So, to everyone else who is mildly annoyed by these device- and network-based email sigs (Helloooooo? Echo?), here are some new, better ones we can all start using. Please note, however, that I do require attribution upon each use.

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Comments

vieuxbandit
Thursday, November 4th, 2010
vieuxbandit's picture

Funny. The iPhone message here translates to "I think phones can be smarter than me and I desperately need one; also, I need to spend money to exist, and buy the most expensive gadgets to prove to others that I exist. If they can't be recycled, even better. Heck it's my planet and I'll do what I want. Also? I didn't bother reading what you had to say properly, because I'm doing something else and my screen is tiny. I don't really care about you or anything you write, but I do have this cool phone and so I keep in touch with you as an excuse to use it. Did I tell you about my phone?"

But I agree on everything else. Except that you should make the rules. Clearly, *I* should. But that's okay: I'd delegate a bunch of issues to you.

stevenmansour
Thursday, November 4th, 2010
stevenmansour's picture

I can't really judge here because I have an Android phone - however, I got it for free, and it actually does help me do my work easier (I can access the Internet and work by wirelessly tethering my laptop to it, using open source and free apps - something you can't do on the iPhone without paying for it).

Ironically, I don't really use it for email for the very reasons listed above. It does have a full keyboard (and not a touchscreen one, which I find unusable) and the screen isn't that bad, but I just don't want folks to expect that kind of instant connectivity with me (well, not all folks, anyways), so I avoid getting into the whole "emailing from my phone" schtick. Not because I'm less busy than the next person, but because I don't need to appear as busy.

Have I told you about my phone? ;)

vieuxbandit
Friday, November 5th, 2010
vieuxbandit's picture

Oh, my "baby brother" the farmer uses his cellphone to record data in the field (literally!) and bring it back to his computer. I know they can actually be useful tools. But I'd argue that for the vast majority of people, it has nothing to do with productivity (actual, not perceived!) and much more to do with status and conformity. Being reachable at all times would simply be (and has previously been) a nightmare for me (I don't consider that I HAVE to answer the phone at home, though, so I'm somewhat immune). I think once you buy into the whole "I need a cellphone", notion you eventually do believe it's necessary for people to reach you whenever (heck just to justify the monthly expense, a brain needs to paddle hard and find a good reason!). It's not. Period. Oh it might be during your work hours, but in general? There's entire industries built on this FALSE sense of emergency! (Of all the people I know, you're one of the few I can believe uses their cellphone "for good instead of evil"! But then again you don't look at it while you're talking to me, so we already know you're special!)

The appearing busy thing is the crux of so much bullshit it makes me want to switch species. (Instead I just moved away from large groupings of said species. Y'know, until science can help me!)

stevenmansour
Sunday, November 7th, 2010
stevenmansour's picture

Well, lots of folks (families with kids, etc) are well-served by the connectivity they provide. You're right in that no tool in itself magically 'makes' anyone any more productive in a business sense.

Like cars, they are genuine useful tools that, in some cases, have had their value artificially inflated through their transformation into status symbols - "Call me on my Blackberry / iPhone / Google Phone" - and to go back to the original subject of this post, manufacturers want to ensure that you promote their status symbol by attaching the name of their device to each outgoing email.

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
osito's picture

While we're listing your mistakes, let's not forget about "disfrutar" and "compartir". 

stevenmansour
Friday, November 12th, 2010
stevenmansour's picture

How can we forget? I also owe you a great debt for informing me that "Yosemite" is not pronounced "Yo's Might".

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