[SIGCIS-Members] "Inventor of Email" campaign targets Ray Tomlinson, "racist" journalists, reality

Thomas Haigh thaigh at computer.org
Tue Mar 8 07:56:27 PST 2016


Hello SIGCIS,

 

Perhaps predictably, Ray Tomlinson's recent death has prompted a new
publicity push by Shiva Ayyadurai, the self-proclaimed "inventor of email."
(Backstory at http://www.sigcis.org/ayyadurai). Here are some recent tweets
from his wife Fran Drescher, best known as "The Nanny": "Thank you. Raytheon
are plagiarists and liars. Big biz w/o integrity! The worst of the worst!
Low roadsters," and "PO'd! Ray Tomlinson WRONGLY credited 4 email whn EVERY1
honest knos Shiva Ayyadurai  <https://twitter.com/va_shiva> @va_shiva
invented, has copyright &is a victim of racism." Also "Th larger issue is
the oppression of people of color. There is a narrative in America that
white washes innovation. That's the real issue!" Ayyadurai himself has
tweeted "White journalists since 2012 have joined in the lynching and
whitewashing of facts on  <https://twitter.com/hashtag/email?src=hash>
#email. I challenge all and any to a f2f debate !!"

 

The new push is reported in a Fortune blog piece,
http://fortune.com/2016/03/07/who-really-invented-email/, which quotes
SIGCIS at length. (I like its description of us as "an organization
comprised of many prominent Internet historians and college professors"
rather more than the "internet cabal" description used by Boston Magazine).

 

Ayyadurai seems to be getting almost entirely uncritical coverage in leading
Indian publications, including

 

*
http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/who-invented-email-ray-tomlinson
-or-shiva-ayyadurai/article8323987.ece

*
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/On-Mahashivaratri-email-pioneer-
Shiva-Ayyadurai-prays-for-recognition/articleshow/51297305.cms

*
http://indianexpress.com/article/technology/tech-news-technology/the-invento
r-of-email-is-still-alive-says-india-born-scientist/

 

There's a somewhat more nuanced, but still not entirely accurate, report
(quoting SIGCIS) at
http://thewire.in/2016/03/08/did-shiva-ayyadurai-invent-email-it-isnt-simple
-and-youre-probably-missing-the-point-24149
<http://thewire.in/2016/03/08/did-shiva-ayyadurai-invent-email-it-isnt-simpl
e-and-youre-probably-missing-the-point-24149/#disqus_thread> . 

 

So there's fascinating story of historical techno nationalism developing
here, in that Ayyadurai's new focus on alleged racism as the only reason for
disputing his claim to have invented email seems to be enough to win him
widespread acceptance in India despite the obvious reality-based problems
with claiming to have invented something that was already in widespread use.

 

Best wishes,


Tom

 

 

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