I’ve always been fascinated by the evolution of spam. I think this is because of an interest in language and communication through text. Spam represents an attempt to inveigle, to persuade using the written word. To do this it not only has to con-vince, it also has to get past the filters that are designed to sift it out before it gets to unsuspecting recipients.
This leads to a kind of sophisticated tightrope walking, between getting the message through (the filters), and getting the message across (to the readers).
A lot of this is to do with the gulf between what the human brain can recognise/make sense of, and what the human brain can program computers to recognise/make sense of. This gulf in embodied sense making ability, and codifiable sense making ability is where the spammers live. As that gulf slowly narrows it’ll be interesting to see what happens.
The technique I find most interesting at the moment is the use of images to deliver the message (e.g. an ad for viagra), and some pseudo intelligible text to fool the filters. I have no idea how they generate this text, but it is intriguing to read:
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