E-mail a major way to communicate; more ahead

Email is taking over the world of communications. In 2002 there were 31 billion email messages sent daily. By 2006 it is estimated this number will increase to 60 billion. It truly is becoming a major way people communicate.

Even as the number of messages increases, I have noticed one use of email that has not being used to its fullest potential. This is the communications between clubs, organizations and groups and their membership.

One of the oldest adages of selling is that to increase sales, recent and past customers should be sold more. This is called "reloading." It means that one of the most valuable assets of a business or group is its mailing list of current and past members.

We probably all belong to groups that wish their meetings had better attendance. Yet many of these groups make no attempt to highlight their meetings by sending individual emails to members. Many of these organizations have Internet web pages, but this relies on members searching out the information. And most members only check these web sites occasionally. However, almost everyone checks email once or more daily. I would enjoy getting an individual email telling me of the feature speaker and reminding me of the meeting date.

Another use of email for organizations is to handle routine business. How many of us have attended meetings to hear the featured speaker, only to have to sit through long, detailed and boring business sessions before the main event? Why not allow the group's board of directors to handle all routine business and submit their report via email. Only items requiring membership voting would be presented at normal meetings. Surely this would make for shorter, more interesting and better attended meetings.

Security of mailing lists may be a concern to some organizations. This should not be an issue if emails are sent properly. "Coffee and Computers' has a mailing list of over 160. When emails are sent to this group, the addresses are inserted as "blind copies." Blind copy came from office terminology where correspondence was copied to some individuals but occasionally a copy was sent to someone but not indicated to the other recipients. In email programs, blind copies are indicated as "Bcc:"

To use this effectively, it is easiest to place the entire group membership under a "group" heading in the email address book. Groups are easily set up in most email programs. Then, when addressing a "group email," the group listing is placed in the Bcc: address line. In Microsoft's Outlook Express email program, Bcc: is found by clicking "To:" in the Create Email address block and a new window will come up which contains To:, Cc: and Bcc:. AOL has a similar setup. In the To: line, I simply put my own address. Using this method, the recipient receives the email but none of the group membership is shown. Incidentally, even if security is not an issue, using Bcc: eliminates the long list of addressees sometimes seen in organization's emails.

I'm not trying to tell organizations how to run their business. However, I am suggesting that to have better attendance, shorter and more interesting meetings, they might try making use of this great communications method. For the few members without email, a rather small percentage, the telephone still exists.

If you would like to hear more about increasing club attendance using email or other computer topics, visit "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. 'C' Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.

Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

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