At Large in Cyberspace
digital roundup - trAces of 2005

A glimpse into what's been happening in trAce’s extended community during the past year of change by Randy Adams

Ebook Economics: Value for Readers and Writers
Of all the models of epublishing introduced over the past decade, says writer Kate Baggott, ebooks (possibly) offer writers the greatest potential for an (almost) reliable income


Sue Thomas: The Digital Life
Empowering others to take risks, to engage with their possible
by Randy Adams


90s Opinion


Who is Jami Carelli?
For a brief moment, spam became entertainment

by Kate Baggott
20/Jan/2005

Your emails intrigue me, Jami Carelli. My poetic sensibilities are attuned to the aural symmetry of your name. I have read it in my inbox three times each day for the past four days. OK, not the inbox proper - Spam Guard is switched on - but the bulk mail folder I have to scan each day for newsletters and subscriptions that have gone astray.

I know so little about you. Your sender ID is but a name typed in all caps. You are without both e-etiquette and domain. Perhaps it is because of this nakedness that I fear you are among the virtually cold and abandoned, like some character in a Dickens novel. You, Jami Carelli, have made spam almost entertaining to me.

Your subject lines do not contain lewd promises to increase the size of my non-existent penis, to teach me what women really want, or to show me how to earn another university degree by the end of the week. You do not use punctuation and accents interspersed within misspelled words to fool my filters and entice my eye toward the modern art of the subject line. You do not crib the creative writing prompts from sites for blocked writers. You do not invite that kind of speculation among addressees who like to read. Yours are not subject lines of false promise and endearing hyperbole.

No. Your subject lines are plainsong of “hi”, of “your message could not be delivered” and “is that you in this picture?”

I do not view your attachments, but I know they are between 37 and 987k. All of them appear to be composite numbers, except the one that includes the mysterious factors of 3 and 329. Is that intentional? Is there a code from the classics I should learn to decipher? Or have you just been reading that Da Vinci thriller too?

I protect myself. Not perfectly, but with modest nods to the search for viruses, worms and spy bots. How can I, with these tools at my disposal, have been so affected by messages I know were not personal? Jami Carelli, Jami Carelli, what do you have to say to the world, this troubled globe, this connected universe?

Few things are as unbecoming as a worm-filled, virus spreading, or spy bot-launching message from a lady. Victorianisms aside, it is even more unattractive in a missive from a man. Still, I am distracted from what I know you are, by the potential of what you could be. The world’s inboxes need stories. These days I dream of short and gentle tales, readings to counter this age of epic events with humanity’s great capacity for love and hope. I suppose these tales are not necessities any more than the things spammers sell are essential spokes in the wheels of commerce. Still, the longing persists with new strength every time I read your name.

You do not exist. Jami Carelli, I have searched for you. I have looked on Google, on Yahoo, and on top of the Dog Pile. I have asked the web crawlers and the Meta bots, in what I hope is an urgent tone, who is Jami Carelli? “Es wurden keine mit Ihrer Suchanfrage - "Jami Carelli" - übereinstimmenden Dokumente gefunden,“ the bots said in German. “Your search - "Jami Carelli" - did not match any documents,” they said in English.

You, my lovely, are only the product of some mercenary imagination. Did that imagination labour over your name like an expectant parent, wondering if - this time - a character would be elevated beyond the mere picas of digital fonts into the realm of immortality? Would you be the first spam-generated character to consort with the esteemed likes of Emma, of Cyrano, or Juliet of Verona?

My heart did break for you when I sent your messages to the trash. But I must tell you this Jami Carelli, you lived for me for a moment. You made me wonder if every piece of junk email, every poorly written piece of spam, every worm-filled attachment could have been a story that is now, tragically, left untold.


Kate Baggott is a Canadian freelance writer currently living and working in Germany. She has written about new media since 1996 and is a columnist for globetechnology.com. Her work has also appeared in The Globe and Mail, Today's Parent, and the Vancouver Sun among other publications. She won the Editor's Choice Award in trAce and Writers for the Future's New Media Article Writing Competition. http://www.katebaggott.com/

Links

They Come in a Steady Stream Now, Richard Powers (meditation on spam):
http://ninthletter.art.uiuc.edu/FA/FA05/

Spam Poetry:
http://www.sperare.com/spam_poetry/blogger.html

Spam poetry: transcending the junk mail paradigm:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/07/23/spam_poetry_compendium/

The Spam Weblog:
http://spam.weblogsinc.com/

Six Apart Guide to Comment Spam:
http://sixapart.com/pronet/comment_spam.html

Internet Tools:
http://www.inetdaemon.com/tools/index.html

Fight Spam on the Internet!:
http://spam.abuse.net/

trAce Links

Show Me Your Context, Baby: My Love Affair with Blogs:
http://trace.ntu.ac.uk/Opinion/index.cfm?article=111


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