Rick's Home PageAbout MeResearch InterestsResearch ProjectsPublicationsWhy Do Research?TeachingResourcesPeopleLinks Of InterestContact Me

You thought this would link to my e-mail address, didn't you?

So why the cryptic e-mail address?

Computers are very good at directly grabbing text. With the internet these days, this makes most the information we put on the internet easily available to them. While the computers would not do anything about this information, there are human beings who take advantage of this easily obtainable data. For example, advertisers could use a computer to grab e-mail addresses from a group of websites and then send the product ad to them. Even worse, malicious hackers could send viruses to these addresses after getting them. However, the computer is programmed to do this whole process autonomously without the human being around (which is why it can be done in mass). So it just gets the e-mail address and then sends the message. Thus my "derived" address is useless to the computer, but a human who is willing to take the time to contact me will be able to find the e-mail address and easily decode it.

Couldn't I just have the link when you clicked on it instead?

Believe it or not, a computer can read the program code of a website (right click on this page and go to the option that looks like "View Page Source" and see for yourself)! So programming the link to my e-mail address would allow the computer to still find it. It isn't very hard to find an e-mail address since most of them are of the form [stuff]@[other stuff].[com, org, net, edu, museum, (there are a many others)] .

Am I the only crazy person who does this?

Maybe. Other people in academia seem to do this on their websites, but they do not state whether it is for the reason above. Some of them classify every e-mail as spam unless it is from their institution or has a keyword which they place on their web site with their e-mail address. It was those web sites that made me realize how important it is to make our e-mail more difficult for computers to obtain. Ironically, I am interested in computers better understanding human communication. So one day a computer may be able to semantically analyze these encryptions. On that day, all our e-mail inboxes are doomed...

Since you clicked here for my e-mail, here it is again:

[my last name]@cs.umass.[standard ending for an educational institution]

Postal mail is also an option!

Although people don't like to spend money on stamps and prefer to transfer information as quickly as possible, "snail mail" still has many advantages. For example, it is the only way to send a package (until 3-D printing gets a little better, at least) and it means a lot to receive a handwritten postcard from a traveling friend. So you can send postal mail to me at:

School of Computer Science
University of Massachusetts Amherst
140 Governors Drive
Amherst, MA 01003


Rick's Home PageAbout MeResearch InterestsResearch ProjectsPublicationsWhy Do Research?TeachingResourcesPeopleLinks Of InterestContact Me