Spam, you know it when you see it, at least this seemed to be the implicit assumption of Bill Gates when he in his 1998 article ‘On Spam: Wasting time on the Internet’ encouraged Internet users faced with unsolicited e-mails to ’press delete’. A few years later, at the 2004 Davos World Economic Forum, Gates bravely announced that ’Spam will soon be a thing of the past’ as Microsoft was now introducing software that would make spammers ‘pay’ through a backlash effect on their computing power. From simply pressing delete to employing Bayesian e-mail filtering, the sheer plurality of methods proposed by Internet security companies to dispose this immaterial waste product, are perhaps at their most useful as testimonies to the inherent mutability of not only the object of spam but of networked communications at large. The endless quest of anti-spam research in defining and eliminating spam simply reflects the fragile socio-cultural as well as economical negotiation at the heart of filtering ‘meaningful’ discourse out of informational flows.
- Kristoffer Gansing (SE) is co-director of The Art of the Overhead, a media-archaeological festival devoted to the overhead projector. He’s a Ph.D. student at K3 Univ. of Malmö, SE, with a project on media art working transversally across old and new media.
Full text (PDF) p. 364-365