Paul Chiusano

Functional programming, UX, tech


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Email display names do not need to be LASTNAME, FIRSTNAME now that computers are a thing

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I received an email recently from a guy, let’s call him Robert Smith (name changed to protect the innocent), whose email display name was "Smith, Robert" <>.

As far as I can tell, the LASTNAME, FIRSTNAME convention is a holdover from the pre-computer days where you needed to have the last name at the start for easy visual scanning when searching some directory (like a phone book) by last name. Now that we have computers that can search any which way, there’s no reason to put up with the (weird to read) LASTNAME, FIRSTNAME convention. If you continue to use it, it signals you aren’t really in the loop on all this new-fangled “computer stuff” and is nearly as bad as continued use of an aol or hotmail email address or using terms like “cyberspace” or “information superhighway” non-ironically. 😀

I’m half joking and this might seem like a silly thing, but it’s a little example of this other general phenomenon: whenever new technology is introduced, people sometimes carry forward old ways of working that no longer make sense. We forget to ask ourselves why things were done a certain way and if we should maybe do things differently now.

Question everything!

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