Academics Joining Ranks Declaring 'E-Mail Bankruptcy'

More university professors are joining the ranks of those who have given up or severely curtailed their use of e-mail as a medium for personal--and most of all--private correspondence. They have had enough with electronic spam, come-ons, nonsense and smut-vertisements.

The idea of declaring "e-mail bankruptcy" can be traced to MIT professor Sherry Turkle, who was researching e-mail in 1999, according to a story by Mike Musgrove in the Washington Post. Turkle told Musgrove she would have a finished a decade-long book-writing project in half the time had it not been for e-mail.

Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessing has also joined the e-mail bankruptcy club, according to Musgrove. Lessing said he had to choose ultimately between the law and responding to e-mail. Although he eliminated 90 percent of his e-mail he has not been able to liberate himself altogether, he told Musgrove.

Similarly, Stanford computer science professor Donald Knuth stopped using e-mail as early as 1990. "I'd get to work and start answering e-mail--three hours later, I'd say, "Oh, what was I supposed to do today?" Knuth told Musgrove. "I have been a happy man since Jan. 1 , 1990."

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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