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  • Dear Friends,

    This is one letter about emails that I wrote long long ago.
    The membership quantity and pattern has greatly changed ever since.

    I dont think even 10% of the original readers of this email
    are still there. And even that 10% would not be remembering still.

    Perspectives have also changed with the arrival of blogs.

    People are at liberty to float it around without altering,
    of course.

    I have been noticing a few things. I began to develope a
    nagging doubt. May be some people are not yet used to much
    writing in email lists. So I asked myself some questions repeatedly.

    Are there any ways of trying to write effectively in email

    Based on some recent observations and some glaring instances
    I am just putting forth some loud thoughts of mine.
    Just wanted to give a few pointers.

    There are many good writers around. But writing in the internet,
    especially email is a bit of a different thing.

    When you write on paper, which is held up in hand or laid
    on a table, the whole page falls within your scope of vision. When a
    person reads, the eyes sort of flit, flirt, skim, skip, hop,
    step, and jump around the written words, lines, etc. If you read
    on and on, but come to a particular place where you lost sequence
    with what was written at the top of the page, your eyes
    automatically move up and grasp the line and come back.

    You can even rescan the whole section with your eyes. You
    can make a fleeting glimpse and a glance at any one section in
    a fraction of a second with a single flitting of your eyes; for a
    very short reference and remembrance. You can tie knots in the flow of
    the idea which has been unravelled.

    In reading like that, you have a holistic view of the whole
    page. You can even refer back to back pages.

    That is definite advantage in a printed document.

    All these, though possible, are not very easy in a monitor
    screen. You see the whole letter in sections. Once you move on and
    on, you really have to scroll up again and search for the relevent
    page, to revert back .

    Many of us suffer from a syndrome called "Lazy Eyes". Its a
    term which the ophthalmologists use.

    And reading small print in a monitor screen can cause eye strain.
    There is a new eye condition known as "Computer Eyes".
    It is caused by prolonged eye strain due to the glare and contrast
    of a monitor screen.

    In email lists, you may receive quite a number of mail. Some
    sent an avalanche of mails.

    Some mails are long, some very very very long, Most are

    But what is the optimum length of an email that is satisfying and

    Angiah is a name that has been long-forgotten. He is one of
    pioneers of Tamil-Computing.

    He is the person who got me into the internet.

    After some years, he got disillusioned with the Web and
    has been cutting a no-profile image.

    One of his contributions is a search programme for

    Angiah told me that I should limit my postings to around of 5-6K or
    less. He told me not to exceed 4-5 paragraphs.

    I try to folow his advise.

    The prudence behind this subservience is the very simple logical
    question that he put forth to me. (Angiah looks silent. But silent
    waters run deep).

    Why do I write?
    Its definitely not for myself.
    Its for others to read.

    Therefore, its very essential that the letter or posting has to be made,

    So we agreed upon that and set a limit of upto 6 KB.
    This is known as the 'Angiah Limit'.

    I took his advise and try to follow it. I usually break up long
    letters and make them into segments. The continuity might be lost, it
    you lapse in sending them. I do commit that sin quite often. But you
    have to choose between two evils. So I chose the lesser evil.

    When writing about local environment to a foreign audience,
    some back-ground information definitely has to be given, and when
    new terms are used or new situations are met with, then some small
    explanations are needed.

    There are many occassions when a writer belonging to a certain
    country or city would write about some incidence involving someone
    belonging to that place. It might be an issue which might be very
    specific to that place. People in other countries would not
    understand what and why.

    If they are to benefit, then something should be written about
    who the persons are, what happened and something about the

    Something in the style of the 'Dina Thanthi' of the olden days.

    Sending articles in languages or slangs or indiscriminate
    Romanisation or indiscriminate Romanisation of an abominable slangy
    dialect that people don't understand will not serve any purpose.
    On the other hand, it is going to annoy them greatly. May be they may
    get angry.

    Normally we use capital letters if we mean to shout. That is internet

    We use astrisks * if we want to emphasise something. If your email
    programme has it, you can use bold or italic letters. You can even
    underline them. Or if you are artistic, you can even colour it - in
    diffent colours, if you wish. There are a number of smileys which can
    be used appropriately. But dont use smileys indiscriminately; and at
    the wrong place at the wrong time.

    So people might be wondering what the writer is thundering about in
    such a stream of bold letters.

    Some of us are very timid, you see.

    Last of all, please delete unnecessary material at the bottom
    of the letter. A long letter may cause delayed downloading -
    especially with bad ISPs.

    (I think I have exceeded my length-limit this time.)

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