As we read this week’s cover story on the newly opened archives at the venerable Institute for Advanced Study we found ourselves fascinated not just by the references to Einstein, Oppenheimer, et al, but also by the newest challenges facing the archive staff at the institute — specifically, how to keep track of all that E-mail correspondence now floating through the ethernet that connects all those great minds.

A century from now, when historians are trying to track down the light bulb moment that led to, say, a cure for cancer, how will they ever trace the E-mail path?

As we were pondering that we received a press release from a California company, InfoStreet (, that promised to make the task easier, not just for researchers but for the rest of us office Joes who have to keep some record of what we do and when we do it.

“InfoStreet reminds companies of the importance of E-mail archiving for protection against accidental or intentional deletion of E-mails,” the release stated. “Many companies overlook E-mail archiving due to expense and time, but InfoStreet’s solution is priced accessibly for small businesses, but powerful and scalable enough for large enterprise corporations. StreetSmart’s E-mail archiving allows companies to send and receive E-mail the way they are accustomed, while archiving occurs automatically and invisibly.”

The next paragraph of the press release reminded us of an admonition we heard years ago: Never write anything in an E-mail that you wouldn’t want published in a major daily newspaper.

“StreetSmart’s E-mail archiving allows emails to be restored quickly and easily, and is fully scanned for viruses before archiving to ensure the integrity of the data,” the release continued. “End users and employees can restore their own lost E-mail as needed, but they cannot delete the archives, either intentionally or accidentally.”

While most of our E-mails will never end up in anyone’s archives, they may never totally go away, either. Be careful when you hit send.

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