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

Dave Walden dave.walden.family at gmail.com
Tue Mar 8 08:42:27 PST 2016

I think part of the issue is that what Ayyadurai did (and he probably 
did something impressive for a young person) was not part of what 
evolved into email as we know it today.  It could be the right thing to 
acknowledge in an email history paper that Ayyadurai did some email'sh 
things on his own at a certain point in the overall email timeline 
(starting way before Ayyadurai).  The problem is caused by Ayyadurai 
claiming he and he alone invented email (defined by him to exclude 
anything before and perhaps afterwards) when the rest of the world knows 
a much broader history.  If Ayyadurai would claim what he actually did 
(designed, implemented, trademarked) and noted where it fits in the 
history of email, it would be another interesting story or something the 
was innovative in its way but didn't have much impact.  I bet no one 
would have much objection to that.   (PS, there are people with 
Ayyadurai's ethnic background who are widely recognized for their 
computing innovations.)

On 3/8/2016 11:15 AM, Christopher Leslie wrote:
> Dear Tom,
> I understand your claims well. It does not take a lot of digging to 
> realize that electronic messaging was part of timesharing systems ... 
> and if one has an open mind, the point-to-point messaging from 
> Teletype can be seen as an important antecedent as well. I also 
> understand that journalists on a deadline might not be interested in 
> doing this research, so they might need our help.
> Nevertheless, in a time when the professions are trying to encourage 
> an inclusive atmosphere, I think as a group we could be more open to 
> Drescher  and Ayyadurai's commentary. It is a demonstrable fact that 
> STEM as a whole is demographically tilted to white and Asian men and 
> the history of technology as a field often has a bias toward 
> mainstream U.S. figures. While we might be "right" in asserting that 
> email has a long trajectory, like the ubiquitous story of the bicycle, 
> there is a different battle waging around us. If SIGCIS is insensitive 
> to this critique, we run the risk of being on the wrong side of history.
> Al Gore chose his words badly in 1999 when he said he took the 
> initiative to "invent" the Internet. Yet, many Internet luminaries 
> took the initiative to defend Gore and say that he helped provide a 
> new vision for what the Internet could be. Other examples could be 
> cited. I recognize that Ayyadurai's contribution is more modest in 
> scope and less widespread in influence, but it does no one any harm to 
> say that he like many others saw the potential for what email could 
> become.
> Chris

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