Campus' fav. hobby: BlitzMail

by Kay Fukunaga | 5/7/02 5:00am

Some regard it as spiritual, others as addictive. No matter how they describe BlitzMail, however, Dartmouth students certainly send a lot of it.

The BlitzMail system -- an email program developed at Dartmouth -- has long been popular enough to surpass telephone and sometimes even face-to-face communication.

Over 150,000 messages are sent each day, according to Director of Computing Services Bill Brawley. Seven servers carry out the delivery of all BlitzMail messages on campus.

While some students admit to checking their BlitzMail inboxes 50 times a day, others have resorted to leaving BlitzMail running on their computer backgrounds day and night.

"I check my blitz at three in the morning," Leland Showa '05 said.

Besides providing an activity for those suffering from insomnia, BlitzMail has also led to some unusual relationship dynamics.

"We're so used to blitzing that one day when my boyfriend called me on the phone, we both didn't recognize each other," Sarah Hatridge '05 said. "I was like, 'Who is this?' and then he called me by my roommate's name."

While there are definite advantages to BlitzMail, many Dartmouth students have experienced misunderstandings over BlitzMail.

Many point to the absence of a definite context of conversation as one of the factors leading to misunderstandings.

"When you are facing people and talking to them, you receive visual cues. Email communication is carried out without such cues. This leads to the question of how to create a context," sociology Professor David Bott said.

Bott's words ring true for many students.

"I can be very sarcastic," Jennifer Guiod '04 said. "People were always misunderstanding me on blitz so I had to temper it down a lot."

Despite such shortcomings, however, most Dartmouth students continue to see BlitzMail the communication medium of choice, and according to Senior Programmer David Gelhar, there are about 5000 simultaneous connections at any given moment.

"BlitzMail, for me, is not ordinary mail," Torivio Fodder '05 said. "It's spiritual. I feel my being connected to Blitz. Besides, who needs the telephone? It's a chore to talk."