Stanley Lieber (stanleylieber) wrote,

FLAMES.GIF 01.25.09 | ChickMail


I was a ChickMail user.

From 1998 to 2000, I used it exclusively to conduct all of my business e-mail. I even used it to secure a job as system administrator for a new cable modem ISP. Apparently, no one in the late 1990s read e-mail headers.
    ChickMail is a free web-based e-mail. With ChickMail, you can easily access your e-mail from any computer in the world. Sending and receiving e-mail from ChickMail is as easy as going to, logging in, and sending an e-mail. All you need to do is Register and Login.

Incredibly, this was true. I required an easily accessible webmail service, but few existing sites were within throwing distance of acceptability. Hotmail had already degenerated into eye-searing adware. Google barely existed and so GMail was still an improbable notion from science fiction. Shell access was unavailable in most of the environments I needed to operate from. So, after reading about it in a grrl zine I gave ChickMail a try. Hey, this doesn't even crash my browser!



My life had been made simple. But I was amazed that no one ever questioned my e-mail address. Not my aggressive feminist penpals, and not even the businessmen here in southern Indiana, where violations of gender norms in naming conventions are strictly forbidden. No one seemed to notice or care.

Is there a word for when a person is let down by the fact that they are not the victim of a fickle prejudice?*

(* I mean, aside from privilege.)

At some point I got tangled up in an online debate about whether or not ChickMail's new web-hosting service should be tailored to computer illiterate women (as a radical form of empowerment), and whether or not such tailoring was sexist. I don't think the question was ever resolved to anyone's satisfaction, but I did convince them to allow entering raw HTML into their web-based editor.



In late 2000 ChickMail closed down for good. The "export mail" function never worked properly, and so when the site went dark I lost all of my archived messages, including my correspondence about the ISP job.

Which was a shame, since I'd quit the job over a power-play to demand the root password to my personal workstation, and I could have made use of those initial e-mails when compiling my exit report for the ISP's board of directors.

Or so I remembered. According to the Internet Archive, ChickMail's pages were active well into 2004.

What the hell is going on here?

The ChickMail front page as I remember it is archived here.


(FLAMES.GIF website...)

Tags: 1999, 2009, chickmail, flames.gif, theory
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