Nerd Angst

March 12, 2008

The first instant messages I sent were within AOL's "wading pool" using version 1.0 or 1.5 in about March 1993. Soon thereafter I left the wading pool and started swimming in the open, unfiltered Internet ocean. One of the first pieces of software I played with was the first version of ICQ. I still have that initial account, 292099.

From the start I made a conscious effort to use whole sentences, capitalization, and proper punctuation in my instant messages. Depending upon one computer or another for most of my written communication had already deteriorated my hand writing to a barely legible scrawl, I didn't want to erode the only means of writing I had left with cryptic shortcuts and abbreviations.

For most of the fifteen years that have followed that decision I have been perfectly content with my no shortcuts approach to instant messages. However, a recent surge in the number of text or SMS messages I send, has prompted a re-evaluation of my stance. Typing with one or two thumbs on a cell phone keypad is an exercise in patience. Trying to use proper punctuation and no abbreviated words only adds to the laboriousness of the process. I hate to relax my stance, and my conviction, that typing correctly is worth the extra effort, but there are times when I am sorely tempted.

(On a somewhat related note, I see where some parents are now naming their offspring using SMS abbreviations or Internet inspired capitalizations. Name your child John or Sally and change your own name to the avant-garde moniker you are so fond of, i.e., pick on someone your own size.)

For now I am sticking with my full sentence, proper punctuation stance. But if text messages suddenly take on greater importance in my daily life, i may half 2 chg my thinking.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.