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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Strategic Spam
James.Ryan on 8 Feb 2001 03:24:35 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Strategic Spam

I'm glad someone has finally come out of the closet and said what I'm sure many of us has been thinking for a long time.  I can't count how many times
I've read an excellent essay or report (often on this list) dealing with a pressing issue which should be of concern to a broad spectrum of people and
thinking, I wish I could send this to everyone in the world (okay, I'm exaggerating).  So many ideas that deserve worldwide distribution languish in
limited newsgroups and mailing lists, often read only by similar people with similar interests and opinions, while those who control the worldwide
information distribution networks "spam" us daily with Hollywood dribble and freeze-dried, purified, market-economy-bolstering, censored journalism.

Of course, what stops me (and I'm sure everyone else) from actually sending out such ideas, no matter how beautiful and valuable they may be, is the
fear that the act of spamming itself will sully the content and the sender, that the militant anti-spammers, many of whom are long-time "netizens"
with an almost self-righteous sense of ownership over the net, will flame them out of existence for the simple ACTION of spamming, without even
looking at the CONTENT.  I'm sure modesty also plays a role--who am I to decide that a particular idea is so wonderful that 20 million people should
get it in their in-boxes unsolicited.

However, maybe it is possible that the "knee-jerk" 100% absolute anti-spamming attitude of many long-time and prominent "netizens" and average users
threatens to completely quash what could be the best chance we have of building a large-scale worldwide media network that is not controlled by
Hollywood or the network media giants.  Are we passing up an opportunity because we're too lazy to hit the delete key?  I mean, let's face it, it's
pretty easy to tell spam by the subject line or at the least by the first few lines in the preview window.  I can delete 20 spams in 30 seconds.  Is
"anti-spamming" legislation really supported entirely by grass-roots organizations of everyday folks who are just tired of getting those "get rich
quick" messages?  I suspect that lurking in the background are the television networks, movie studios and advertising industry, lobbying for such
legislation because they, too, see the possibility of spam networks eventually rivaling their power for a fraction of the cost.  Who knows, when we
all have more bandwidth, independent producers could spam the world with streaming video of their latest movies, writers could distribute books and
musicians could distribute their music.  If you're the CEO of Time Warner, this would be enough to make you shiver.

Just as we accept commercial messages every fifteen minutes when watching our favorite television programs, why not take the good spam with the bad?
The big question is, how do we convince people that accepting the "good spam" with the "bad" is a means to a truly accessible low-cost distribution
medium, the Internet equivalent of public access channels...


                    "                            To:     nettime-l {AT} bbs.thing.net                                           
                    <nettime {AT} bbs.thing.ne        cc:                                                                       
                    t>                           Subject:     <nettime> Strategic Spam                                     
                    Sent by:                                                                                               
                    nettime-l-request {AT} bbs                                                                                  
                    2001/02/08 09:14                                                                                       
                    Please respond to                                                                                      

 On The Strategic Use of Spam

 by Anonymous


 When everyone states that Spam is Evil,
 an opportunity arises to counter this
 absolutist position.

 The prevailing mass-logic is as follows:

 EITHER it is Spam
 OR it is not Spam

 The thinking person will be able to
 differentiate in the above example that
 the definition of 'what is Spam' will be
 the determinant for the EITHER-OR conclusion.

 What is perceived as Spam?

 Superhuman sexual functioning, making lots of
 money fast, beating the credit bureaus and banks,
 online gambling bargains, crash diet programs, and
 `find out anything about anybody' pyramid schemes,
 one and all.

 The exception comes from good intentioned people,
 not looking to make money or cheat or steal, but
 to share ideas. They run websites and try to keep
 their ideas out in the pseudo-public sphere. If
 they are not 'branded', they can only resort to
 reaching the masses through the dreaded, multiple
 e-mail list spamming of their content. It is as
 natural as the survival of the fittest, wherein
 there is no cooperation, but only competition. A
 name added without permission to a mailing list
 or a private mailing of collected e-mail addresses
 operates on the same rogue level as Spam, that is,
 outside of individuals' control over the content
 that reaches their e-mail inbox. But this is not
 traditionally considered Spam, but someday it may
 also fall under 'anti-Spamming' laws, soon to be

 The Question:

 What one considers Spam is central, but what many
 consider Spam is even moreso. Spam is Spam, of course.
 Everyone agrees - IT IS EVIL. This is an answer, an
 ideological one, assuming that there is no such thing
 as a Good Spam. If one can disregard certainty for a
 moment, could it be possible that Spam is a paradox,
 and offers something beyond its negative value?

 The Opportunity:

 The Spamming Network is a marketer's dream. Maybe not
 a legitimate Professional Marketer though, as much as
 as manipulator of desire, emotion, and human stupidity.

 The Spammers Network is a communications infrastructure
 which possesses tens of millions of e-mail addresses of
 people cutting across all demographic boundaries and lines.

 The Spammers Network may be the _most_ public sphere that
 exists on the Internet, as everyone continues getting Spam.
 That is, until it is completely outlawed. And it has not
 yet been so.

 The Idea:

 What if Spam was not about cheating, stealing, or lying
 but about telling the being honest, sharing, and telling
 the truth? What if Spam were used for Good Reasons? What
 if a Spammer sent a Public Service Announcement?

 The Operation- Public Policy Spam 2001:

 The Spammers Network is the only distributed public
 communications infrastructure on the Internet. No other
 Listserv or Mailbase can accomplish what the Spammers
 Network can. So why not put this infrastructure to use
 for the airing of public ideas- that is, human ideas:
 things that affect us all- such as war, global warming,
 energy inefficiency, pollution, poverty, inequality.

 No legitimately sane person would dare become a Spammer
 neither by trade nor association, so the sentiment goes.
 But what if Public Policy Spam could go beyond purely
 economic manipulatin and into opening up `the debate
 that never was' for lack of true public representation
 in society?

 The EITHER-OR logic of the prevailing paradigm of reality
 then comes down to this:

 EITHER one can walk into a private radio or television station,
 or get a well-placed advertisement in a well-read newspaper
 to reach millions of 'the public' which would cost more money
 than anyone has and would probably not make it past editorial
 OR one can go guerrilla and SPAM THE NETWORK WITH PUBLIC IDEAS
 and reach millions of the distributed public without millions
 of dollars of money or internal connections.

 Spam may be the true test of Free Speech, if Public Policy Spam
 2001 is taken up. Please consider this, as any such operation
 will require institutional and legal support.

 A Public Policy Spam could be prepared. All that is needed is
 an autonomous webhost and mirrors, and the spirit of artists
 and thinkers whom can see beyond the EITHER-OR of Spam and
 into its strategic potential to change the course of dis-course.

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