Yet another forgotten malady.

The syndrome that Helen Petrie, then Professor of Human Computer Interaction at City University, London in 2003 named Pre and Post Mail Tension has apparently found its way to the dustbin of insignificant research. Since, as I noted back in 2003, I find nothing of scientific significance in the identification of this syndrome I have to admit to a certain satisfaction that beyond the headlines that her study made when it was first published there seem to be almost no references to it since then. This shouldn't surprise us. There are probably still numerous insignificant studies being conducted today around the use of more up-to-the-minute tools, but it's a sign of the times that today nobody seems to be studying email (not to mention using a mouse). Today we'll get studies that try to determine whether, for instance, a WhatsApp message is more effective than an SMS at gaining students' attention.

But I also admit to at least some discomfort as I poke fun at this rather ancient study. Helen Petrie is no longer at City University, London. Today she holds a professorship in Human Computer Interaction at the University of York, and a guest professorship at Lund University in Switzerland. The latest updated page with information about her lists publications from 2011 and 2012. That page links to a York University page from 2011 that seems to have been neglected since well before then. This doesn't mean that she hasn't been publishing research, only that she hasn't been devoting time to updating pages about that research, and there's nothing wrong with that. Her field is apparently facilitating computer use for people with various disabilities and that's certainly an important field. And since it's not a field I know much about I have no way of determining how interesting or significant her research is.

Becoming famous, or infamous, for one highly forgettable study, and from outside of her main field at that, suggests that the right to be forgotten shouldn't only apply to criminals but to all of us.

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