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Chapter 4
Introduction to Electronic Mail

Electronic mail is known for its informality. This is partly because of the hacker culture whence email springs and partly because email is so easy to send. In some ways email has more in common with phone discussion than with paper memos, which are traditionally more formal in tone.

Because email communications are written, they can be much more detailed than a phone conversation. And they're delivered almost instantaneously, rather than overnight. So colleagues or friends can have a long "conversation" -- with a written record of what they said -- over the course of a day.

Anatomy of an email message

When you receive an Internet email message, it usually contains many lines of incomprehensible gibberish before the beginning of the actual text. (Endnote #11) This chunk of gibberish is known as the "header" of the message. Most of it is a record of the path the message took from the sender's computer to yours. It's useful only when an email message gets lost or

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