The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘spam’


August 11, 2015 | by


Image: 10ch/Flickr

Somewhere in the world, there must be people who actually take a moment to unsubscribe from all those e-mails—newsletters and sale alerts and publicity blasts—that clutter their inboxes. Rather, I mean, than simply deleting them every single day. One doesn’t like to calculate the time costs of these things; it’s too depressing. It’s best to avoid the implications.

There are the discount offers, of course. Don’t we all get those? Dirt-cheap massages! Flash sales! Exorbitant shoes made merely overpriced! And wait—the sale has been extended! Here’s the Project Runway contestant you started following nine years ago because you were so moved by his tears when he was told to pack his things. And the headache-prevention newsletter you never seem to get around to reading; wouldn’t it hurt that aging hippie’s feelings if you unsubscribed? Surely she’d notice. Remember the one time you attended an adult Christian-education class at that Episcopal Church? They do. You think of the unhappy example of the Yiddish class you dropped out of in 2004. You were on that guy’s mailing list until he died last year. Read More »

Postcards from Another Planet

September 3, 2014 | by

The art of spam.


Detail from a 1987 German postage stamp

The Daily gets thousands of comments a day. Nearly all of them are spam. This should be annoying, and I suppose it can be. Problem is, I find myself captivated by our spam, so much so that I keep a running list of my favorite comments. As far as I know, they’re entirely computer generated: an algorithm hurls together bits of text from around the Internet, hoping to rustle up enough verisimilitude to trick our spam filter. The results are unduly captivating—they’re by turns ludic, cryptic, disquieting, emotional, and inadvertently profound. On many days they’re more interesting than the comments we receive from real people.

Here, for instance, is an automated comment from “geniadove”:

If you give it your name it will call you by it when you start up the GPS. These incidences come about quite normally, showing that Peter dislikes his daughter. A huge clue that your ex boyfriend still has feelings for you. —geniadove

That swerve at “Peter dislikes his daughter”—whoa! Dissertations have been written about less. And to see a clinical phrase like “These incidences come about quite normally” next to a casual one like “A huge clue”: What does it all mean? The mind searches restlessly, somewhat desperately, for connective tissue, some semblance of conventional narrative. Like autostereograms, these comments always verge on resolving into a discernible whole; unlike autostereograms, they never do. Read More »