by John December
I opened a new checking account at my bank their other day and had to order checks. Being a wiseguy some of the time, I decided to put my email and Web address on the checks. After all, my phone number is pretty much useless: I'm rarely home to either answer the phone or return calls at any reasonable time. And my postal address changes a lot.
Email is the best way to get hold of me. So I spent some time in the bank associate's cubicle explaining the slashes, colons, and @ signs of my Uniform Resource Locator (URL) and Internet email address. .
I had to explain that my email address, email@example.com, doesn't require spaces before and after the @ sign or the period, and although not necessary, I prefer it to be written in all lowercase letters. And my web address, http://www.december.com, threw the associate off also--those slashes--two of them in a row--and all crunched together with no spaces between anything. I think it must have been the first time a URL was explained in the cool, marble lobby of that bank.
I remember my first URL To me, it seemed prickly with the two dots of the colon and the leaning forward slashes. It made me think of a foreign language, bristly with diacriticial marks.
Names are important. They stay with you all your life. But moving across the country--I'm on my fifteenth postal address, about the same number of phone numbers--I know the impermanence of geographical space.
The Net sunders my reliance on physical space, and lets people contact me independent of geography. And, because I have obtained my own domain name, my email address is also independent of where I happen to be working or going to school at any given time.
You, too, can be master of your domain.
The InterNIC charges $50 a year (2 years due when first registering) for registering a domain name. Of course, that's just the registration cost; you'll also have the added cost of buying Internet service from a provider. I pay $15 a month for my electronic mail as well as web space and 15 free hours of dialup time.
For $15 a year, you can get a permanent email alias with some commercial services. For example, pobox.com is one of the original "permanent email" services. You'd have the "pobox.com" name as the last part of your email address, but it's arguably better than the obscure domain name you might be issued at your work or school, and you can keep it for life.
Oh, the checks came the other day. The printer left out the colon and the @ sign. I suppose they thought there shouldn't be such symbols on checks. I brought the checks back to the bank and talked with the same associate who apologized and called the check printer right away. With my corrected order in, I may soon get my new checks, with the only identifier that won't change on me, my email address and Web URL.