Father of Email Claims His Social Network is the Biggest

AUSTIN, TX – Ray Tomlinson, the man responsible for putting the “@” in our email addresses has apparently gone on the warpath against MySpace, Facebook and other social networks who claim they have the largest memberships.

image “Zuckerberg Schmuckerberg!” Tomlinson was overheard saying at a social gathering. “My social network has been around since the 70s. We support photos, videos — everything Facebook does.”

The social network to which that Tomlinson refers is the world-wide email system, a system that has been in use since 1971 when Tomlinson inserted the “@” character to “separate the user from their machine,” according to Wikipedia. The symbol, known as an “at” sign, “ampersand,” was reportedly taken from a rune used by secretive Freemason accountants signaling other Freemason brothers to “ask for a discount.” This has not been confirmed.

The global email system has been embraced by Viagra retailers, relatives of Nigerian government officials, and that guy who thinks any joke is funny enough to share. But, the biggest social network on the planet has been overlooked by thousands of legitimate businesses.

Tomlinson has been largely out of the spotlight since a major cable company attempted to trademark the “@” in 1996, proposing that all email addresses take the form “name@domain.com”. Tomlinson successfully argued the disk space that servers would need to store the additional characters “TM” should be saved to fix the Y2K problem.

It is not known if Tomlinson is seeking some form of compensation for his work, or if he simply had too many Appletinis. For instance, when it was pointed out that email doesn’t offer social applications like those supported by the OpenSocial standard, he is reported to have said, “what do you think viruses are!”

Tomlinson was not asked to comment on this story.

If you’re considering investing in a social marketing campaign, and you haven’t nailed your email strategy, you may be investing in the wrong place. Don’t miss our next post on the myths that keep businesses from using email to its full potential.

Photo copyright BBN Technologies.

  • Agree with the points you made above Brian. Quite insightful.

  • VoiceTranscribing

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  • Hi Kristi,

    I can respond with a lengthy comment, arguing the futility and wastefulness in running A/A or A/A/B etc. test, but I’ve already done an article on that back in 2014, so I’ll just share that: http://blog.analytics-toolkit.com/2014/aa-aab-aabb-tests-cro/ If you’d like to check it out and, hopefully, respond to it I think it will be beneficial for the readers of this blog.

    Kind Regards

    • Thanks, Georgiev. When you have a test setup that spans multiple domains, servers and security features, an A/A test is critical. We have been saved by A/A tests. In response to your excellent article I ask, “Which is more wasteful: Running a series of A/A tests or running a series of A/B tests that result in the wrong decisions?” The latter can impact sales for months or years.

      • Sounds like an unusually complicated test setup there, Brian. What kind of problems did those many A/A tests reveal? Randomization issues? User experience uniformity issues? Statistical engine issues? I’m just thinking there has to be a better way to detect & debug most of these, but the statistical engine ones…

        • We never really found the smoking gun, but we suspected cookie persistence issues, iframe security delays, page load times, etc. We redesigned the approach and verified the setup with an A/A test.

  • nrennie

    Thanks for removing my comments @bmassey:disqus.

    Surely constructive criticism is part of making things better, and excluding a market leader from your “Top tools” was exactly this?

    So my valid point was why not include Maxymiser? It’s a huge gap in your post.

    • Cut the sarcasm, @nrennie. It’s never appropriate. You commented on the wrong post here. I assume you meant to post on “The Most Recommended AB Testing Tools by Leading Experts”. I’ll reply to your comment there, but we didn’t list Maxymiser because nobody recommended it. Our team used it for one client and found it lacking on several key features.