The lost art of the .sig

Whatever happened to elaborate and amusing ‘.sig’s? It used to be common practice to have a signature with some kind of witty/pithy quote appended at random to every email.

Nowadays, the autosignature that most email programs can insert (such as Outlook’s ability to have multiple autosigs, which vary depending on which account is sending, or whether the mail is a new message or a reply), is typically informative with lots of contact information, job titles, disclaimers etc. I’ve seen some sigs which are twice as long as the message itself (though there may be a legal requirement in the UK to put company information in the sig, in the same way that letterhead paper would, but some people really go to town).

I’ve had a lot of people comment on my own sig (or steal it – you’re welcome to, if you like), since I tried to make it as small as possible whilst still conveying the maximum information, and using hyper links for the different ways you can contact me:

Ewan Dalton
communicator email phone RSS | +44 118 909 3318 |
Solutions Architect – Microsoft UK
cid:image001.jpg@01C6A4F4.036E8CF0  Sent using Exchange 2007 and Outlook 2007
Microsoft Limited | Registered in England | No 1624297 | Thames Valley Park, Reading RG6 1WG

or for replies (where real estate is even more important)…

Ewan Dalton | communicator email phone RSS | Microsoft UK | |+44 118 909 3318
Microsoft Limited | Registered in England | No 1624297 | Thames Valley Park, Reading RG6 1WG

Since we’re using Office Communicator, if someone clicks on the first link (the sip: URL), they’ll send me an IM. The 3rd pic (the tel: URL) will call me using Communicator (or whatever else they’re using that can support a telURL, such as a Smartphone).

I kind of miss the days where interesting quotes were de rigeur – you know, the kind of thing about BillG saying 640k should be enough for anyone (I’m not actually sure he ever said that, but we’ll leave it for now) or Thomas J Watson saying there should be a worldwide market for maybe 5 computers…

Speaking of Thos J Watson, if you have an idle few minutes, you really should check out the IBM Songbook – top marks for IBM to keeping it alive as historical curio in the IBM Archives. My own personal favourite is “To Thos J. Watson, President, I.B.M.”, sung to the tune of “Happy Days are Here Again”.

Anyway, last word on .sigs. David Harris, author of the now venerable Pegasus Mail (which had support for auto-insertion or random quotes from a .sig file, used to have a cracker or two. One that sticks in my mind (apparently taken from a real newspaper):

After the boat had been secured above the wrecked galleon, the diving apparatus was set in motion by the Captain’s 18 year old daughter, Veronica. Within hours she was surrendering her treasure to the excited crew.

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