Monday 18 November 2019

de scrutarius

Having just had an exchange with my landlady over an email missive reputedly from myself having landed ceremoniously in her spam box (albeit it’s a bit tangential to the topic but I’m noticing that the circle of people that I care about are getting a lot of junk, phishy correspondence from each other disguised as earnest and heartfelt messages from one another—a dialogue that would make the occasional dip into that holding area worthwhile all on its own) and assuring her that I would dispatch a text message if there were an actual emergency, this thoughtful essay on the nature of urgency and authenticity in the lost art of correspondence, appreciating that communications are bi-directional and not just artillery for firing demands from Adam Gopnick struck as especially resounding and true. Not only do we concur with the assessment that there are distinct gradations when it comes to insistence versus aspiration that separates texting from email (or even those soul-shattering seconds of an unexpected telephone call), we moreover found the observation deliciously ironic that the protocols of the algorithms and filters that consign suspect mail (rightly or wrongly but usually erring, on balance, to segregate junk from everything else) are informed by the letter-writing etiquette and structure that we’ve been taught as polite and correct. A sincere form of flattery, the automated guardians of our inboxes target that which follows the structure of salutations, surprising developments (something worth writing home about), a detailed proposal and a proper closing for our epistle whereas less formal spam might find its way through to the recipient.