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The ocean of machine noise around the island on which we live.   Share:  
Thrust of argument: Finn Brunton writes 'This problem of language begins with the word 'spam', which we struggle to define precisely. Most email - 85% plus - is spam, and is intercepted by filtering systems that we never see. Spam can include tweets, Facebook posts, text messages, blogs, comments, sites, edits on wikis and still newer forms of online expression. People have been fined and jailed for feeding this colossal machine, companies closed down, websites de-indexed from Google's search returns, and entire countries (briefly) harmed. Spam has shaped the net and the services, systems, populations and publics that use it in fundamental ways.

In the 1970s - before the web or the formalisation of the Internet, before Minitel and Prestel and America Online - US graduate students sat in basements, typing on terminals that connected to remote machines somewhere. They did it by night, because by day computers were used for big, expensive projects. They wrote programs, created games, traded messages and played pranks and tricks. Being nerds, they shared a love of science fiction and the absurd. Monty Python's Flying Circus was a favourite and Python lines were volleyed back and forth - the dead parrot sketch and the spam sketch (first broadcast by the BBC in 1970) with Vikings loudly singing 'Spam, Spammity Spam, wonderful Spam!' The sketch caught on. The nerds wrote a simple program that, at the right spot, would post 'SPAM! SPAM! SPAM! SPAM! SPAM! SPAM! SPAM! SPAM!' without pause, filling the screen, killing the discussion, and often overloading the chat platform, kicking people offline. It was annoying but mischievous rather than malign, like blowing a vuvuzela in the middle of a conversation. This noisy behaviour became known as spamming'.
Direction of resistance / implied resistance: Brunton explains 'The term came in useful through the 1980s to categorise postings that were indiscriminate, time-wasting, verbose, off-topic, tedious or ranting. Then two lawyers from Arizona posted a message across the discussion system Usenet (forerunner of the Internet), offering their services to thousands of users across the world to improve their chances in the US Green Card lottery that gives residency rights in the US. The Usenet community settled on 'spam' as the term for the commercial message. The word had jumped closer to how we understand it now.

Those lawyers were offering an actual service, if bordering on fraud: you could call a real telephone number and make an appointment with them. And with much of the spam that followed you really could buy quack weight-loss pills, deadstock toys or counterfeit watches. This kind of spam was despised was but more or less legitimate, if only by accident.'

 

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Removal of resistance: That which is spam, now, is produced by robots, Brunton points out. Unification: Nonetheless, the 80s idea that the 'verbose' (e.g. excerpts of Chomsky) is spam also - is clearly something which mainstream media and grunting folks like to believe whilst on the whole the intelligent and literate are very happy to accept verbosity if it's genuinely not spam and has some value as information if not actually knowledge.
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(TVhobo's estimated size of readership since 2013, mainly in the UK and USA, with Germany in third place:
over 200,000 readers across approximately 200 cities/towns

 

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References:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/14/a-short-history-of-spam/

 

 

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Click here to read about Shams Pirani, the editor and chief author on this grid - note, if you can actually prove anything written above wrong, I would gladly, if the proof is sufficient, correct what I've written and what I think - if I could, however, prove your attempted proof wrong, then I would accordingly say so and maintain whatever point of view is completely based on fact and proof.