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E-mail, what's the big deal?

by Art Little

Transmission Digest Magazine
This article appeared in the August 2000 issue of Transmission Digest.

Everybody is talking about it. Hollywood has even made a movie about it. So, what's the big deal about e-mail? Well, read on and I'll explain it to you in this article.

What is e-mail? The E in e-mail stands for electronic. Thus, electronic mail. What's neat is the fact that e-mail works almost like the conventional mail system we are all used to. Once you understand the differences, it is easy to use and has a lot of advantages over conventional mail.

Remember, in my last article, I told you the Internet works through the phone system? Well, E-mail is delivered electronically through the Internet via phone lines. You have an e-mail address just like you have a house or business address. Mail is electronically delivered to your e-mail address. The Internet service provider (ISP) you choose will issue you at least one e-mail address when you sign up with them and get hooked up to the Internet. Computers with the windows operating system will have the personal computer based e-mail software you need to send and receive e-mail from your computer. If you travel or want to access your e-mail from remote computers you can get free web based e-mail. You log on to the Internet, go to the website offering free e-mail and set up an account with them. The website will issue you an e-mail address. Then, you can access that website from anywhere in the world and check your e-mail by entering your username and password. Pretty handy. Gives you freedom.

As with all mail, you can go through it when you have time and sort it out , throw away the "junk mail" , read the magazines , look at the advertisements , reply to the mail sent or write a letter and mail it off. It is convenient and can be done when YOU have time.

When it comes to the speed of mail delivery , the Internet beats the pants off planes, trains and mail trucks. E-mail is delivered through the Internet within minutes. That means your turn around time on e-mail is a lot faster than conventional mail and as a result you can get more done in a shorter period of time.

How would you like to be able to write one letter or advertisement and have it sent to a thousand or more people? E-mail allows you to send one e-mail to multiple addresses easily. You can communicate with all your customers, family or friends by getting their e-mail addresses and developing a list of e-mail addresses. Once you have your list compiled, you add them to an Internet tool called a list server. There are two types of list servers and both can be found at http://www.databack.com/maillists.htm . This website also offer free e-mail lessons.

One is a simple mailer called an electronic newsletter that that allows you to send your message to a group of people via e-mail. Any member of that group simply clicks on reply to send you a message back. You are the only one that receives the reply message from those in the simple mailer group. The electronic newsletter is commonly used to send messages to a customer list. The other mailer allows for group discussions. With the discussion mailer tool, you send your message out to the group. Every one on the e-mail list receives it. Unlike the simple mailer, when a member of this group replies, the whole group receives his reply. You can set up your own discussion group or join a variety of discussion groups on the Internet. Sports , automobiles , politics , extra terrestrials, you name it. When you join a discussion group you are able to partake in the discussions and meet others who share the same interests. It is fun to make on-line friends in these groups and they are very informative.

Just like conventional mail, when you send an e-mail, you can "attach" different things to your mail. You know how you send a bill to a customer with a letter, or send a picture of the baby along with a letter to mom? You can do that with e-mail and much, much more. The attachments to e-mail go far beyond that. With e-mail you can attach documents, WebPages, graphics, pictures, audio and video.

Another very important difference between e-mail and snail mail ( conventional mail) is cost. Did I mention it was FREE? That's right. Well it's not exactly free. You have to have Internet connection hardware and an Internet connection. I don't want to get letters from the bookkeepers. But, when you consider the savings in ink, paper and stamps, I think the bookkeepers will agree, e-mail is cost effective.

As a communication tool I would have to give e-mail 5 stars. It is revolutionizing the way people communicate. It is cheap, easy to use, fun, saves you time, and eliminates licking stamps. You don't even have to sign the message if you set up a signature attachment. How much easier can it be? I encourage you to check this e-mail thing out. It is a big deal and is going to be around forever.

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