Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology


published on May 14, 2019

Joni Turville

From “You’ve Got Mail” to Email Overload
A Postphenomenological Genealogy of Email

Using a postphenomenological approach, this article follows the history of email from its first development by and for the scientific community, through its commercialization, and into its modern-day integration with mobile devices. Five historical variations are identified: emergence, propagation, habituation and commercialization, supersaturation, and evanescence. Finally, I propose a model that describes not only the evolution of email, but potentially other digital communications tools. Studying the history of a technology can provide insight into both its past and contemporary applications, and may prompt more thoughtful use.

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