the Spam of Tomorrow

Paul Graham on methods of bypassing spam filters

And of course, spams won’t work so well if they have to be rewritten in more neutral language. People who respond to spams are presumably pretty dull-witted, and have to be hit over the head with a lot of capital letters and exclamation points to get them to do anything. Perhaps you can’t get them to act at all unless you tell them they have to ACT NOW! So forcing spammers to use more neutral language may be enough to put most of them out of business. We’ll see in the coming year.

via Adam

We Hate Spam, Congress Says. Except From Us

Even as Congress was unanimously approving a law aimed at reducing the flow of junk e-mail, members were sending out hundreds of thousands of unsolicited messages to constituents

Many members of Congress praise the new policy for allowing cheaper and more effective communications with constituents. But consumer advocacy groups say the policy may unfairly give an advantage to incumbents over challengers because it allows elected officials to use government resources to communicate with voters right up to Election Day. In addition, the consumer advocates say, sending bulk e-mail messages to constituents who have not agreed to receive it is essentially electronic junk mail, or spam.

Thoughts about spam

On occasion I’ve thought about the potential of using “spam” as an art form… graffiti is un-authorized use of space for art, so why not use spam as e-mail graffiti? And of course, there are various political chainletters that periodically go round (usually right-wing, but a couple leftwing one’s as well).

I’ve not thought too hard about it, since there’s generally a huge opposition to unsolicited e-mail. But I’ve seen studies that say that the reason companies spam is because it works. And if it can work for penis enlargement, why can’t it work for art or activism?

But it may be too late to do anything with this since Bush signed an anti-spamming bill. If this works, it will be a boon to ISPs everywhere who are dealing with the terrible bandwidth burdon of spam. And no one will miss the onslaught of porn, scams, and other misc. crap that builds up in their “bulk” mail folders. But think of this: that’s one less tool for activists and artists and small businesses. Megacorporations can afford to advertise to millions of people. The rest of us cannot.

Update: See also this Salon article on artist Netochka Nezvanova and this Wikipedia.

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