Internet citizenship

Not long ago, my beloved, by chance someone bought me the letter of consolation you had sent to a friend. I saw at once from the superscription that it was yours, and was all the more eager to read it since the writer is so dear to my heart.

Heloise, To her master, or rather her father, husband, or rather brother; his handmaid, or rather his daughter, wife or rather sister; to Abelard, Heloise.

Finding e-mail addresses

Imagine that you have found a wonderful conference paper. It is intimately related to your topic, it is insightful and it was presented in Darwin early last year. You desperately want to talk to the author. How do you quickly get in touch with them?

If you know her name and her university or employer, it may not be to difficult. Let's imagine that the author is Margaret Jackson and you know that she works at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Often this sort of brief biographical information is included with an academic paper.

First, I would try to guess the university's (or organization's) Web address. If you can't guess after three tries, give up (some of them are not obvious - Melbourne University, for example). The Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee maintains a handy list of Australian universities. Or a quick search on the Web will usually turn up a link to an organization's Web site, if they have one.

Once I was at the university or organization's Web site, I would look around for a link marked 'contact information' or 'staff directory'. What you want is a searchable database of staff phone numbers and e-mail addresses. More and more organization's are putting these on line. They are invaluable.

Then write them an e-mail.