Writing an email is not dissimilar to writing a script. Wrapping a message
in paratextual elements means to imagine how the reader on the receiving
end will interpret it. Whether it shows enough enthusiasm!!! If a bit of
softening is needed ;-) Or an apology to excuse the lack of immediacy,
sorry about that. These elements determine the tone with which the email
will be read in the person's mind.
Angeliki Diakrousi, Cristina Cochior, Artemis Gryllaki, Christina
Karagianni and Amy Pickles prepared scores and scripts for one another
based on a series of emails. One source is the Enron email archive, a
historical dataset in the world of machine learning, that is still being
used to this day consisting of messages exchanged by the employees of a
corrupt American energy company. Another source is a collection of emails
from hackerspaces' mailing lists, that were received in response to an open
call for a feminist tech initiative.
The company culture of Enron is reflected in the language used by its
employees, which is then further naturalised and propagated by algorithms
trained on this dataset. The email collection, on the other hand, contains
varied responses to a feminist group's attempt to intervene in the
reproduction of standard technical language.
We rehearsed and recorded vocal exercises which detach the landscapes of
language in these emails from their originally intended meaning. We
dramatised words and sentences (through scripts) or emphasised the
rhythmicality of phrases (through scores). Scripts and scores give agency
to the overlooked paratextual emotion and intention of an email as they
create a rustle of voices with the capacity to expose paralogisms and how
we exhaust certain versions of language.
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