Saturday, March 1, 2008

My Gripe with Email as an Internet Pioneer

As a teenager in the early 90's (yikes-- was it already that long ago?), I was quickly fascinated by the development of the internet. I used it virtually every night on the old dial-up modem (yes, that really DOES seem long ago!) and cruised around for a variety of different things, ranging from sports updates to chat rooms to online gaming. In retrospect, it was very much a frontier time as the internet landscape was so new to everybody that just doing things online was pretty fun and exciting in and of itself. Some of that charm has worn off, but now most of us probably would have a very difficult time living without the internet for more than, oh, 24 hours. It's become that embedded in our lives.

Unfortunately, us early "internet pioneers" didn't really have much of a guidebook and now people like me are dealing with relics of the past that are hard to shake. One of the biggest faults in the internet, in my opinion, is that of the scattered world of email. To give you an understanding, here's a brief history of my email account usage, to the best of my recollection:

-Netcom: My family and I used Netcom as our first and longtime home internet service provider. So this was my first real email account. This lasted for a few years, but at some point we stopped using them and thus lost the email account. This was a sacrifice of being an internet pioneer.

-Hotmail: This was my first "free" email account, and currently serves as my main account since that's where my email history is headquartered. Unfortunately, I've gotten frustrated with Hotmail and I'm desperately trying to figure out a way to leave it without losing all of my old emails, addresses, and account signups. (I'm open to any ideas of how to break free!)

-Yahoo: This account I use whenever I sign up for a newsletter or something else that I'm unlikely to read. It's basically a depository for junk email that I don't want to receive on my Hotmail account.

-Comcast: Comcast is my current internet service provider and I set up an account that I use whenever I want to give a more "formal" email address since my Hotmail name is just a silly one I picked and Comcast email addresses sound a bit more professional than Hotmail. Unfortunately I can't stand Comcast's email platform (even moreso than Hotmail), so this has become a rarely used email address for me, though I still have to check it occasionally to see if I have any important emails.

-College: I used my Penn State email address as my primary address during college, but lost it once I graduated. So that was kind of a bummer. I think I could have kept it as an alumni but I never followed thru with it, so it basically just disappeared.

-Care2: I liked the idea of having a free email account that also managed to encourage me to help the environment, which is what Care2 is good for. I tried to make this my main address at one point, but I just didn't get used to it and I really don't like the platform here either, not to mention the fact that I get boatloads of spam on this account. This email account sits pretty vacant now.

-Gmail: Last year, I set up a Gmail account with the hopes of making this my central email account since it seems fairly easy to use, but Hotmail won't let me forward my email there, so my Gmail account now sits idle as well, rather than trying to switch everything over. That to me is a major pain in the butt.

-Work: Over the years, having switched jobs multiple times, I've been through a good 4-5 email accounts for my various jobs, and I've learned to keep my personal stuff separate from my work stuff for several reasons... 1. in the event that anybody sees my personal stuff on my work email, that could be problematic (not that I've got much to hide, but I don't want people all up in my biz!); 2. once you leave a job you lose that address, so it's silly to give people your work email address since they'll have a harder time keeping in touch with you; 3. mentally I need to keep the two separate or else I'll never get any work done!

Ok, so for those of you still reading, you earn a gold star! Quite an exciting subject huh!?! At any rate, you can see why email account setups can be an important life decision nowadays... if you go with the wrong one you can be screwed! And if you set up too many, like I have, you can lose your mind trying to keep up with them all.

If only I knew back then what I know now...

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