Monday, 3 September 2012

The urge to forward a mail to all your contacts

Recently I read one of those stories that tug at your heart strings, written by a mild celebrity (and forwarded to me by email), where the writer proposed that ´we reap what we sow´ and suggested as usual that the reader may want to share the mail with their friends. Now, I am normally thoroughly against forwarding anything unless absolutely necessary because it used to be frowned upon as a practice at every computer facility I worked at, along with the use of ´reply all´, and with good reason.
To tell you why it makes sense not to forward something to even two contacts, let me tell you a story..
When I was a child at school, one day my maths teacher told this story to our class. 
A wise man introduces a King to the game of chess. Once the King has learnt the game and is suitably impressed he tells the wise man to ask for anything and if it is within the King's power then it shall be granted. The wise man says that he only wants some rice, and not much at that. He stipulates that if they take a chess board, then place a single grain on the first square, then 2 grains on the next square, 4 on the next and so on doubling the number of grains on every square then he would be happy to take as much rice as the entire chess board might have at the end of the sequence.
The King laughs and says 'Is that all?, you can have anything you want so why not ask for something more substantial'. The poor wise man says 'No, that's all I want'
Those of you who have heard this story before must know that by the time they got to the 30th square the numbers got so huge that the King had to admit that they could not satisfy the demand even if they could get hold of the entire produce of the whole world.
After 10 squares the number was 512 (so far so good)
After 20 squares it was 524288 (still not too bad)
After 30 squares 536 million
and after 50 squares it would be 562 followed by 12 zeros
and still 14 squares to go..

Now lets get back to the forwarding of can see what I am getting at..if we forward a mail to just two contacts and they each forward to two more and so on, we can start a chain reaction which quickly builds to an avalanche of emails that can flood the Internet.