From The Upstarts, by Brad Stone, Loc 1519-1533:
In late 2009, a few months after it had graduated from YC, Airbnb appeared to create a mechanism that automatically sent an e-mail to anyone who posted a property for rent on Craigslist, even if that person had specified that he did not want to receive unsolicited messages. If the apartment was listed in, say, Santa Barbara, the e-mail would read: “Hey, I am e-mailing because you have one of the nicest listings on Craigslist in Santa Barbara and I want to recommend you feature it on one of the largest Santa Barbara housing sites on the Web, Airbnb. The site already has 3,000,000 page views a month.” All these e-mails were identical except for the city, and they typically emanated from a Gmail account bearing a female name. Dave Gooden, another online real estate entrepreneur, recognized the soaring popularity of Airbnb in 2010 and became curious about it. Suspecting what was going on, he posted a few dummy listings on Craigslist and then wrote a blog post in May 2011 about his findings, concluding that Airbnb had registered Gmail accounts en masse and set up a system to spam everyone who posted on Craigslist. He described Airbnb’s activity as a nefarious, “black-hat” operation. “Craigslist is one of the few sites at massive scale that are still easily gamed,” he wrote. “When you scale a black hat operation like this you could easily reach tens of thousands of highly targeted people per day.” 8
From Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet by Finn Brunton pg 197. The thesis of this impressive book is that what we call ‘spam’ is fundamentally a deliberate and disenguous violation of salience: it’s because of the vast array of new instances of salience being opened up, in which we search for and have a reasonable expectation of locating relevant material, each one providing an opportunity for us to attend to something in this new digitalised archive.
Spam persists and diversifies because we are living through a major, complex transition in the constitution and management of our own attention, a transition moving faster than our governance, our metaphors, and our software can keep up with. Spammers—the disbarred lawyers, impoverished con artists, would-be pornographers, credit card thieves, and malware coders—are the avant-garde, the wildcatting exploiters of this transition. They find domains where salience is being generated, whether in a comment thread, a search engine result, a social media platform, or your email inbox, and move to commandeer it. They are the crudest and most abject form of this capture, from students pranking each other with the words of a Monty Python sketch to global botnets producing more email than everyone else on earth, every single day. In their crude way, they show the rest of the online population the network’s new capabilities, the new forms of attention and community experience, which we have not yet fully understood.
As he puts it on pg 199: “Spam is the use of information technology infrastructure to exploit existing aggregations of human attention.”
Is the murky world of internet marketing making me paranoid? Or does anyone else share my scepticism about this e-mail? I’ve edited out the name in case I’m wrong but the enclosed web address & twitter feed has no content on it.
Good day Mark!
I hope this email finds you well.
My name is [x], an aspiring writer. I’ve been working on sharpening my skills for about 3 years now and having my work published online has been most helpful.
I would like to inquire if you accept contributions on markcarrigan.net from guest authors? It would be an excellent opportunity to contribute an interesting piece that will bring value to both your site and your readers.
Do check out some of my published works on Techie Doodlers and my personal blog. Any feedback about my writing would be awesome!
Please let me know if you are interested. I am more than happy to send a couple of topic pitches or start writing my piece right away.
Thanks and here’s hoping I hear back from you soon!
I didn’t realise “sociologicalimagination.org” emphasised the importance of “tutor”. It’s fun to learn stuff:
I’m writing up this mail just to get a hold of you for appreciating your good work on maintaining an informative & attractive website on the topic of “Tutor”.
Actually I have just put together a cool infographic on the key points of “Tutor” techniques and to add more spices we also included the latest trends evolving around this topic.
I thought someone like you who is already writing a lot about this topic will get some insights out of it. If you can be so generic and share it in your website, it may bring more traffic and add real visitors to your site.
Revert back if you want to check it out.
Is this algorithmic or solely idiotic?
There’s loads of this stuff every single day and it’s starting to get irritating:
Hello my dear , How are you doing ? . My name is Miss lilian . It is my pleasure to see your profile here and it interests me to be your friend . I want us to be friends if you do not mind . Your status , country , color , age , language , tribe , religion , etc , will not prevent us to be friends as i seek for your friendship from my pure heart . I am new to this site and i may be out of it any time from now . I may not have the chance and time to log in here again to reply you here , for that reason i will be pleased if you will get back to me on (email@example.com) and i will reply you as soon as possible . I will tell you more about myself and send you my pictures if you accept my friendship . Have a lovely day . Cheers .
And to think we never would have met if not for Facebook!