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History by lawsuit: After Gawkers demise, the inventor of e-mail targets Techdirt

By anonymous following x   2017 Jun 13, 4:01pm 165 views   0 comments   watch   nsfw   quote     share    

History is not fixed; like memory itself, it is an act of reconstruction.

Shiva Ayyadurai understands this. Ayyadurai has spent nearly six years publicly proclaiming himself the “inventor of e-mail.” But this claim about e-mail—as everyone but Ayyadurai’s supporters understand the term “e-mail”—isn’t true.

Ayyadurai did write a program called “EMAIL” for use by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now a part of Rutgers). He copyrighted the code in 1982. But Ayyadurai today makes the far more significant claim that he invented “the electronic mail system as we know it today,” even though his code had little impact beyond the university. Mainstream tech history books don’t even mention Ayyadurai—unless you count the several books Ayyadurai has written about himself.

On the ARPAnet, the predecessor to the Internet, electronic mail conventions were well-established by the mid-1970s. Dave Crocker, one of a group of ARPAnet pioneers despised by Ayyadurai, told Ars that he wasn’t just using e-mail by 1974—he was positively addicted to it, a full three decades before the smartphone.

Yet Ayyadurai is closer than ever to creating a world in which his version of history rules. In 2016, Ayyadurai sued Gawker, which had published a biting and widely read article critical of his claims. Several months later, with Gawker in bankruptcy proceedings after losing a defamation lawsuit brought by former pro wrestler Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea, the site agreed to pay Ayyadurai $750,000. Two articles about Ayyadurai were deleted.

Ayyadurai then moved on to a new target. In January 2017, he sued technology blog Techdirt and its founder, Mike Masnick. With the Gawker articles gone, Masnick was Ayyadurai’s most prominent remaining critic, having published more than a dozen detailed articles attacking his claims. According to the complaint, some of the sharp-toned Techdirt articles dubbed Ayyadurai a “fraud,” “liar,” and “charlatan.”

Now, Ayyadurai and Masnick are locked in an extraordinary conflict over the history of e-mail. Each believes he is fighting for real principles, like history and the nature of truth itself. Neither is likely to back down.

(These are the main titles for each of the subsequent parts of this article)

The history of Ayyadurai

Correcting the record

“What does Vint Cerf know?”

E-mail, at universities

E-mail, at work

Ten magic words

Ayyadurai allies

Shiva’s war

“Tomlinson dies a liar”

The Gawker lawsuit

Techdirt and the cost of speech

Into politics

Note: Five Page Article, Easy Reading. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/06/shivas-war-one-mans-quest-to-convince-the-world-that-he-invented-e-mail/5/

Related: Techdirt’s Mike Masnick says lawsuit has already had a chilling effect on his site. https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/08/mike-masnick-personal-democracy-forum/

#EMail #SciTech #Lawsuits #Gawker #Techdirt

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