If the Internet survives a nuclear conflagration, messages exchanged to check on the survival of friends and relatives will probably intersperse with spam missives as soon as power returns to servers once the shock waves subside. The infinite variety and persistence of junk content makes it the equivalent of an electronic microbial population that reproduces at an exponential rate. Witness the mass production of content farms—purveying tips on the best way to wear sweater vests along with reviews of deodorant containers—a flood of inanely irrelevant human-penned word dumps that blur the indistinct borderline between spam and actual content. The 19th-century satanic mill quality of the content farms contrasts with the insensate machines that rid spamming of the human element. Botnets, it can be argued, are the ultimate spam—machines that take what they want (less than a nickel for a compromised computer) rather than asking whether you want to buy undesired goods. Follow all this in our third installment of a chapter from Finn Brunton’s remarkable spam opus.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Filtering: Scientists and Hackers [Excerpt Part 1]
Part 1 of the Spam book excerpt series
Poisoning: The Reinvention of Spam [Excerpt Part 2]
Part 2 of the Spam book excerpt series
The Quantified Audience
Content farms represent a “back to basics” approach to spamming reminiscent of 19th-century sweat shops
Meet the spambot ActiveAgent that crawled Web pages seeking out addresses to e-mail them preprogrammed text
Enter the flourishing global casbah for spam supplies and malware
Reprinted from Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet, by Finn Brunton. Copyright © 2013, by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Used with permission of the publisher, the MIT Press.