Blitzmail: a paean to plain text
I interviewed this morning for a job supporting a local institution of learning as they move from using Blitzmail for their organization email to using Microsoft Outlook. One of the reasons I think I’d be a good fit for that is that I myself used Blitzmail for years and adored it. I still do, although I don’t use it any more.
Blitzmail is a plain text email client that Dartmouth put together. When I first got online, my ISP was ValleyNet – at that time a part of our local science museum – The Montshire. It was also associated heavily with Dartmouth and Dartmouth employees. The email client that ValleyNet provided was called Blitzmail. It gave access to a directory of email users from ValleyNet, Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. You could also look up users at ThetNet, the local school and library network in my home town – Thetford, VT.
The charm of Blitzmail is in its interface, a little rural route mailbox as its icon (just like the one out on my dirt road) and a charmingly simple look and functionality.
Blitzmail does not do HTML. For those who are feeling lost at that acronym, that’s the stuff that lets you have those fancy fonts in your email signature, that nice blue color in your quoted text and the fancy backgrounds and what-have-you. Blitzmail is plain text. Just words, no decoration of any sort.
Attachments appear as small icons above your message. They aren’t in the body of the email, and you can see at a glance how big they are in terms of file size, and decide whether you want to download them or not. On a dial-up connection (as some of our neighbors still have, yes that’s right here in what my state rep calls “the corrugated landscape” many still do not have broadband access) that is invaluable.
I think the biggest thing that I liked about it is that using plain text makes one concentrate on the words, and that is why I classify this post under Tools. I think we tend to forget that the most useful tool we use in online communication is the written word. That signature with the frilly font is pretty but is it readable? I just want to know what it says. I don’t care what it looks like.
In the beginning was the word…
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