Post Academic

The sad, impending demise of my .edu account

Posted in First Person,Surviving Grad School by Arnold Pan on March 30, 2010
Tags: , , , ,

Earlier this month, I received a message that my email account “is set to expire” on April 1.  Practically speaking, it’s no big deal, since I switched my primary account to a different account a few years ago in anticipation of just this event.  And actually, I should’ve been cut off much sooner, even with the postgraduation grace period, but lecturing the past few years at UCI gave the .edu account a lifeline.

Symbolically, it probably means something more–I wouldn’t be shocked if I received a few more rejection letters as my April Fools surprise!  I’ve had some sort of .edu account for almost my whole virtual life (I used telnet for who knows how long!), and this particular one would be getting ready to go to high school soon.  But having the .edu address is something of a badge of honor for the academic lifer, since it represents a sense of belonging you can’t get with a .com or a .org.

A sampling what I’ll be missing out on starting Thursday is below the jump…

1. Cringing correspondence: My is a veritable time capsule of embarrassing correspondence, both personally and professionally speaking.  It’s full of overly earnest and tentatively flirty emails that use critical theory and/or indie rock to (fail to) do its wooing.  It’s also full of overly earnest and tentatively fawning courtships with faculty members, whether for admission into a seminar or mentoring advice or a letter of rec or sponsorship.

2. Flame wars: I don’t think I participated in *too* many flame wars, and the ones I did join in on probably preceded the term.  But then again, I probably involved myself in almost every one that flared up on the various listservs to which I’m subscribed.  If you’re curious about them, they are, in fact, immortalized in this psuedonymous Chronicle of Higher Ed column about flame wars (which is *not* written by me nor endorsed by me, either), which sparked a mini-meta-flame war about the opportunism of the author.  I won’t rehash everything, but the most heated flame wars ended up being battle-royale affairs over the status of ethnic literature and minority issues in the department curriculum and faculty searches, including clashes between grad students and faculty even.  The one recounted in the Chronicle was a particularly epic week-long battle during finals week, only losing steam because some of us got sick and had to turn in our grades.  By the way, if you do read the Chronicle piece, I’m the one called “Dave,” who actually did blast another student for basically being racist (at least to me) in ascribing a hypothetical (read: every) ethnic lit specialist as the “Clarence Thomas of minority literature.”  (Of course, this “Clarence Thomas” is now writing Post Academic, and the Clarence Thomas name caller is on the tenure track!)

3. The Ikea listserv: Our student and departmental listservs often function as a marketplace for grad students selling stuff when they move or move on, and faculty giving stuff away when they get new, shinier stuff.  Sometimes, people sell books, but everyone *always* sells Ikea bookshelves.  There are probably more than a few Billy bookshelf-Poang reading chair combos that could trace the rise-and-fall of UCI as critical theory powerhouse to whatever its profile is now, like the tree rings of a Redwood.  Just this month, our dept listserv also added a Men’s Wearhouse storefront, with someone selling thousands of dollars of used Versace and Dolce and Gabbana suits

4. Meddlesome professor(s): Occasionally, meddlesome professors will wander onto the listserv with unsolicited and outdated advice or nosy queries about how nervous students are doing on the job market.  (OK, I’m really only referring to one specific professor, but I’ll give him/her some cover.)   Bonus points go to the professor(s) who then rush to tout students who get job offers as if they were his/her own advisees.

5. The wrong replies: Particularly salacious bits of gossip can be gleaned when a personal message is sent to the wrong reply field and somehow ends up on a semi-public listserv.  It’s usually pretty funny and everyone tends to ignore the sweet-nothings, even though we’ve all read them.  But it becomes suspicious when many of these messages are addressed to or sent by the same individual.  And really, is a listserv email address that similar to someone’s personal account?

That’s basically a virtual stroll down memory lane of 13 years of my grad school and post-Ph.D. life.  In the end, I guess it’s telling that I’m still deciding on whether to hang on to and download some of my messages before they are doomed to the digital dustbin, or just leave the .edu all behind without looking back.

Screenshot of “Http request telnet ubuntu” by TheJosh from Wikimedia Commons, public domain

One Response to 'The sad, impending demise of my .edu account'

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  1. Regarding flame wars and sweet nothings, I have learned the hard way to take a breath before sending an e-mail. I learned the hard way in the Hamster World when a random dude in one of the larger offices where I worked lectured me for making an Aqua Teen Hunger Force joke at work.

    I did not know that the flame war you mentioned made the Chronicle of Higher Education! It’s funny: Flame wars are daily life on political blogs, so much so that it’s hard to keep track of who is mad at whom.

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