Aaah... email signatures... We know that 90% of the total email traffic is spam. I bet that 2/3 of the remaining 10% are signatures. That, my dear reader, is a very modest estimate.
Take a better look, there are 4 references to the company's name, the address is mentioned twice, the company slogan is also mentioned twice.
The message itself is one line long: "Urgent!". I could write a story focused just on this "urgent" thing, but this is not the story for which I asked you to visit me today.
There is one 3 KB attachment for the logo in the signature. Another 37 KB attachment is an HTML file that contains the same message.
The diagram below illustrates how much information from the entire data-set is actually useful. Note that I had to use a very powerful electronic microscope and zoom the picture 500 times, because at normal scales you cannot see any useful data.
Here's where the numbers come from:
- The message has a total size of around 64 KB (because attachments have to be base64-encoded, there are some SMTP headers too).
- The actual text is just 7 bytes (exclamation mark included).
You might say that I am just nitpicking, that I should not care about several kilobytes in an age where people routinely exchange HD-rips of movies that vary between 4 and 50 GB; in an age in which a mobile phone has 100 times the space of my first computer; in an age in which my Internet connection is fast enough to send in a minute all the stuff my dial-up modem would send in a year...
Alright, assuming that we don't care about bandwidth and traffic - this is technical mumbo-jumbo, with time progress will make these resources even cheaper.
There is another resource which is quite modest, which gets scarcer with time - a person's attention span. Take another look at the diagram. Why, oh why must I see all of that, when I need is just one single line?
Here's an idea for software developers who make mail clients and other email-related tools.
Append a signature only when you send someone an email for the first time.
Indeed - it is great that I'll know about all your phone numbers and emails and addresses. I don't need to be reminded about that every time you contact me. If I lose that information, I will ask you to send it.
Here's some more trivia:
- The "Please consider the environment before printing this email" signature accounts for .00000034% of the Carbon in the atmosphere; it is generated by all those network devices which have to forward the text from one node to another, until it reaches the recipient.
- "This message contains secret information, please delete it immediately if you are not the intended recipient" - not only that it is responsible for another .00000032% of Carbon, but it is also not enforceable.
- 96.73% of statistical data are made up on the spot.
I noticed that these fancy signatures are strongly correlated with non-technical people. The less involved you are with engineering, the more likely you are to have such an über-signature.
Here's a stamp that has to be attached to emails with such signatures:
p.s. I bet Leonardo Da Vinci ended his emails with a simple "Regards, Leonardo" and he preferred plain-text to HTML.
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