December 07, 2004

Brief Reflections on Spam

Product-shot of reduced-sodium SPAM(R). Keeping a weblog like this, one is faced with a near-continuous, and, it seems, ever-increasing flow of comment-spam. It can be dispiriting, and on occasion I feel like a beleaguered citizen of that underground city in the Matrix movies, only without the assurance of having Keanu Reeves on my side, desperately contending with a mechanised yet seemingly intelligent spambot assault with only a sketchy knowledge of the relevant technical whatnots to help me. On the other hand, I also sometimes admire the spammers’ resourcefulness and cunning. Alert and tireless as mosquitoes in a dark room in which we are trying to sleep, they buzz annoyingly past our ears and effortlessly evade our clumsy attempts to swat them. Of course, it is easier to admire the marvel of a parasite’s specialised physiology when it is not biting us, so I have very belatedly taken a few first steps to spamguard this site.

Product-shot of hot'n'spicy SPAM(R).

To my mind the most impressive (and, at the same time, the most repulsive) manifestation of this phenomenon are the cascades of porno-spam that intermittently swamp the comments here, that, if they were real SPAM®, of the kind that comes in a can, would be an unnaturally bright shade of pink, and would smell decidedly ‘off’. These comments’ unnerving titles and descriptions allude to interests and practices that vary from the impossibly specialized to the downright illegal. These are texts that bring to mind both the combinatorial methods of the OuLiPo and the compulsion-to-shock of a young Apollinaire or Bataille. From the latest such accumulation to fall on these pages, the commenter-name ‘Hovercraft Scat’ stood out as being exemplary in this regard: pseudo-random combinatorializing with a truly surreal effect. I’m not at all sure, though, that I feel grateful for such thoughts & mental images as these that never would have occurred to me otherwise.

Product-shot of SPAM Lite(R).I’d prefer to maintain at least the illusion of a dialogue here, and would be unhappy if the spam problem ever became bad enough that I would feel obliged to disable comments, as many have already done, or even to impede them by way of some kind of registration or approval mechanism. Thinking about it, I would say that it is even in the spammers’ best interests to moderate their actions, as a healthy and sustainable population of comment-friendly ‘host’ weblogs is their best guarantee of sustaining their own parasitic activities. I’d say that we should be worried if ever these bloodsuckers stop trying to bite us.

I must not omit to mention that these unsolicited comments are in no way connected with the fine food products pictured: I lifted the images from this page at the Hormel Foods site, and beg that company’s pardon for discussing unsolicited comments in proximity with images of their excellent canned meats.

Posted by misteraitch at December 7, 2004 12:11 PM | TrackBack

I haven't commented here in a while. In fact, I haven't read your blog in a while, and I'm not sure why, because now that I AM reading you again, I've remembered all the reasons I loved reading you back at OD.

I really enjoyed this entry. I've gone back and forth with registration on my own blog - the spam traps still require skimming and deleting, but I hate that I've done so.

Perhaps for the holidays, I'll open things up again

Posted by: Melissa on December 7, 2004 04:02 PM

Thanks for your amusing'Essay on Spam,' Mr. H.

They used to give us spam to EAT in Junior High and High School. That was back in -- -- -- -- hmm....well.....the 50s.

It was as little appetizing and nutritious as present-day Web spam. Thus the name, I suppose....

I admit, I was somewhat surprised to see wierd sex-ads next to your graphics of Mantegna. Are these people interested in Mantegna too??

I doubt it.

Thanks again for all the mysterious and beautiful things you post.

Posted by: Ron on December 8, 2004 10:48 AM

I have had something of the same problem recently on my web log as well. I thoroughly enjoy the images you post up here, as well as your commentary, and thought it would be a shame if you disallowed commenting on this page.

Posted by: shut on December 8, 2004 01:11 PM

I appreciate your sentiment on spam. While sometimes amusing, it is nevertheless too disruptive, too boring, too annoying to even elicit a mild positive response.
In the ecology of the Internet, spam could be consider a bacteria, that while impossible to evict, has to be limited and curtailed, lest its effects bring down, among other things, comments in blogs.
Which, to my understanding, are among blogs' most important characteristics.

Posted by: Camilo on December 8, 2004 08:38 PM

I admit the first time it happened to me I was quite amused by the incredible imaginative (!) porn titles and commenter's names. Now it's just getting annoying...

I'd rather have a bunch of vikings singing it to me:-)

Posted by: Claudia on December 8, 2004 09:43 PM

Thanks to the generous provision of randomly generated words & phrases used by spammers to trim their way past the crude netting devices used by anti-spam software, my friend Jago Flood has created a spam-poem entitled 'Maps'. It is now being considered for publication by two very zeitgeisty online poetry mags.

Posted by: Dick Jones on December 10, 2004 11:01 PM

it reminds me of jean cocteau's _orpheus_, where orphee composes a poem out of the seemingly random phrases broadcast on death's radio

Posted by: rebecca on December 11, 2004 07:49 PM

Your site is marvellous.

Posted by: Leia Beigler on February 19, 2005 09:49 PM
Comments are now closed