Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stephen Dedalus' signature file

Were Stephen Dedalus living in the era of e-mail, he would have an elegant if longish signature file. Here is what he has written on the flyleaf of his geography book:

Stephen Dedalus
Class of Elements
Clongowes Wood College
County Kildare
The World
The Universe

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)
In the real world, lengthy signature files on in-house e-mails always strike me as failures of tone: there's no need, really, to announce ourselves to each other in these ways. We already know who we are. The most extravagant example I've seen (not from my workplace): twenty-two lines, with seven URLs. No doubt that person's e-mails are really important.

comments: 6

Slywy said...

I like our lengthy legal disclaimer, which I've never seen included in written letters.

Michael Leddy said...

Here's a useful discussion of such stuff -- clickwrap, shrinkwrap, and browserwrap.

JuliaR said...

There does seem to be a relationship between the imagined self-importance of the emailer and the length of the signature block. I have a friend who always leaves his ten line block on even personal emails. Of course, it IS ten lines because the block has to be all bilingual. But really.

Michael Leddy said...

The bi- or trilingual approach might be a good standard practice for important persons, as with so much packaging: tea, , thé.

Slywy said...

In fairness, oftentimes IT has programmed legal disclaimers to be added automatically, so the individual has no control.

Michael Leddy said...

"In fairness, oftentimes IT has programmed legal disclaimers to be added automatically": a friend and I were just talking about that. I'd want to distinguish between those disclaimers and personal signature files.