18.224 effects of junk mail

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2004 08:06:26 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 224.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: Vika Zafrin <amarena_at_gmail.com> (17)
         Subject: Re: 18.219 effects of junk mail

   [2] From: lachance_at_origin.chass.utoronto.ca (Francois (47)
         Subject: Re: 18.219 effects of junk mail

         Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2004 07:44:27 +0100
         From: Vika Zafrin <amarena_at_gmail.com>
         Subject: Re: 18.219 effects of junk mail

Willard and Humanists--

This morning I came across Mark Hurst's article "Managing Incoming
Email: What Every User Needs to Know." It's a 35-page report
available here:


Mostly it's pretty basic, but it does give some tips for dealing with
junk mail. Like many people here, Hurst departs from the premise that
spam will continue to flow in, and that users don't have a choice but
to learn to filter it out on many levels.


Vika Zafrin
Director, Virtual Humanities Lab
Brown University Box 1942
Providence, RI 02912 USA
         Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2004 07:45:01 +0100
         From: lachance_at_origin.chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
         Subject: Re: 18.219 effects of junk mail
There is a another filtering layer to describe besides those signalled
Don Weinshank in a positing to Humanits on September 16, 2003 and it
just might be a way of dealing in part with the false negative/positive
The human reader and the interface. Most people in their reading habits
will use the information contained in the "from" and "subject" fields to
guide their reading. Spam has tought some readers _curiousity control_.
One question arises. Does the software interface allow users to mark for
deletion or does the software immediately transfer the incoming message to
a delete folder? Good old ELM keeps the message to be deleted in sight
with a tag ("D" for delete). GUI-based interfaces tend to make the deleted
and unread disappear from the current screen. I point this out because I
suspect in most households one step in dealing with paper-based post
involves sorting mail for the occupants, previous and present. That is, in
the non email world addresses are not so intimately connected with the
subjectivity of the addressee. Part of the irritation of spam is not
merely technical (network performance and mailbox overflow). It is also
social. Spam tends to undermine expectations of being hailed as a person
rather than a consuming unit. And taps into the very tenacious
internalization of the etiquette of the response.
The very existence of the noise of spam will likely strengthen back
channel social networks a la six degrees of separation. Am I more likely
to respond to an inquiry if it comes from a third party via a regular
correspondent? Note that such inquiries would usually take the form of an
invitation to do something. Inquiries in search of knowledge or know-how
tend to be addresses to the distributed intelligence of lists, news groups
and lately, blogs. In other words, responsibility for getting a message
through is partially the responsibility of the sender. In most offices,
urgent matters requiring an immediate response go through a minimum of
three communication channels (phone, email, yellow sticky on the computer
screen, a call to an assistant to yank the addressee out of a meeting).
In the rhetoric of business communication, it has become a common question
to ask: how many iterations of the message, in what form and at what
intervals? BTW, from the epidemological perspective, spam watchers might
have notices an increase in amounts of spam that coincides with the
North American beginning of term -- an interesting Humanitites Computing
project, to plot spam occurence against time and place.
Erasmus would no doubt have made reference to spam in the De Copia:
"Your email, having survived the filters and the competing sollicitations
for my attention, arrive and gave me much pleasure..."
Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large
A calendar is like a map. And just as maps have insets, calendars in the
21st century might have 'moments' expressed in flat local time fanning out
into "great circles" expressed in earth revolution time.
Received on Fri Sep 17 2004 - 03:22:05 EDT

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