WHAT does a sumerian love poem have in common with that email you just sent to your boss? probably not a whole hell of a lot. but both are means of communication made possible by the technology of the day, and it's the kind of thing john freeman gets into with his new book, "the tyranny of e-mail." (the old-school spelling is his.)
here is my interview with freeman -- who was recently named editor of british literary magazine granta, from sunday's LATimes. this year, of course, marks the 40th anniversary of the first electronic text message.
part of what's most interesting in his book is the history -- the arduous route for instance, a letter would take to find its recipient in the ancient world, the way the catholic church took over in the dark days after the roman empire crumbled, the coming of mass literacy in the english speaking countries, the way lincoln was besieged with telegrams in the same way obama is chained to his blackberry, and so on.
freeman is especially strong on solutions, calling for a new style of communication based on the "slow food" movement. this photo, by the way, is of a civil-war era pony express rider.