Friday, July 08, 2005

fyi Tsunami warning hits the spam barrier


Pointer to article:,10801,102996,00.html?source=NLT_AM&nid=102996

Kobielus kommentary:
Doesn’t surprise me at all. Consider for a moment the provenance and tone of spam. First off, spammers often try to pass themselves off as an “official” this or that in order to phish for your personal info, or to “sell” you some crap, or simply to get you to open the message. Secondly, spammers often use appeals to the basic human emergency/urgency-drivers--fear, uncertainty, anxiety, inadequacy, doubt, (greed, horniness, etc.)—to get your immediate attention. Thirdly, all of these pandering pronouncements are issued in bulk out of the blue, with no warning. Taken together, these are the ingredients of the “sucker born every minute” spamiverse.

These are also the hallmarks of tsunami alerts and other legitimate emergency messages: issuing from on high, appealing to FUD, and blanketing the world with “act now” alarms. I don’t know about you, but almost four years of post-9/11 vigilance and alerts have got me all alerted out. Call it post-traumatic compassion fatigue and fatalism. Sad thing was, when I learned of the terrorism tragedy yesterday in London, I checked out CNN’s website briefly and went back to work, not even recalling the incident till I got home and informed my family. And we all just sort of shrugged. Not that we’re insensitive, but that we’re numbed and our emotions blunted by living under this cultural environment.

Getting back to legitimate tsunami alert messages that get blocked by being falsely tagged as spam, this is another potential tragedy in the making, when a real emergency hits. Spam filters are exquisitely optimized to filter out the “boys who cried wolf” to the point that, when the real wolf pushes his way into our midst in sheep’s clothing, spam will lay us down with the lamb to be eaten alive. Unless we can somehow still detect the real wolf within the steady stream of false wolves.

Or send out the legit alerts through all or most media simultaneously, and not tie every single medium to the same spam filters. In that way, the legit alerts can get to us through some unblocked channels, and then trigger we as human beings to alert each other with more targeted personal messages.

Such as, “Bob: This is Jim. There’s a huge wave crashing over the beach a mile away. It’ll be here in just a few minutes. Looks like a tsunami. Tell everybody in your end of the resort to run like hell to higher ground. This is no f***ing joke. Run!”