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November 17, 2008


Presidents and email

Bush on a video conference

"Since I do not want my private conversations looked at by those out to embarrass, the only course of action is not to correspond in cyberspace. This saddens me. I have enjoyed conversing with each of you."

That's the email that Bush sent out to friends and family just before his inauguration in 2001, announcing his self-imposed moratorium on sending emails during his presidency.

There are a few great little details about that email, which is like a miniature time capsule of email communications in the early part of our decade. "Cyberspace"? William Gibson invented the word in 1982, and at the time of Bush's reference it was probably still a relevant word. The Wikipedia entry gently points out that in recent years it has "lost some of its novelty appeal."

Also, his private email address: G94B@aol.com. You've got the date-specific address that looked behind the times about 30 seconds after he created it (94 is probably a reference to the year he became governor of Texas.) And, of course, AOL.

The Times predicts that Obama will send out some version of the same message before long, since all presidential correspondence is part of the public record. The emails that he will probably stop sending for the next 4 years are reportedly "crisp, properly spelled and free of symbols or emoticons" though he sometimes sends out short exclamations too ("Sox!"). (Isn't that what texting is for?)

AP says, "Often a president uses the equipment of personal assistants," suggesting that Obama might keep emailing using his aides' BlackBerrys. Sneaky. He'll probably have a few favorite staffers that let him use their BlackBerry and bum the occasional cigarette too.

categories: Politics, Technology, War and Security
posted by amy at 2:13 PM | #

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