Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 02/24/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/24/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

>Judith Martin


She may favor quill pens, but etiquette maven Miss Manners (Judith Martin, 58) is no Luddite. In her new book, Miss Manners' Basic Training: Communication, the syndicated columnist calls e-mail "the best means of quick communication since the pony express."

Is there a need for netiquette?

It's funny; people always say, "Isn't etiquette terribly old-fashioned?" But people in cyberspace never put down netiquette. They realize that communities work only if they are regulated by etiquette.

Do you frown on smiley faces?

Emoticons are a charming idea, but they're like Washington acronyms—only insiders know them. The recognizable ones, like the smiley face, should be used with restraint.

When is e-mail inappropriate?

People have the misconception that they have privacy. But as the person finds out who writes an impassioned e-mail to a colleague and sees it wind up on the boss's computer, love notes should always be handwritten.

What's the worst bit of incivility you've seen on a computer?

Well, I always think it's very rude when the hard drive crashes.

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