Monday, December 11, 2006

Spam, Like Sin, Is Constantly Renewed (and "Digital Maoism")

The best thing I've read today is this blog post at Short Schrift:

"All messages marked spam have been deleted forever."

There's something about the balance and weight of it, that just feels right. Not just techno-speak. It tells the truth.

On the other hand, it's unexpectedly funny. The purported finality is absurd. If your email account is anything like mine, you're going to have to delete all messages marked spam "forever" in about five minutes. (And indeed, I've got more spam in my box since I began typing.) You could take the "forever" not as literal truth (that deleted spam messages are unrecoverable -- is this true? Where do they go?) but as ironic commentary on our deepest desires - that is, our deepest email desires - that we be done, once and for all, with messages we will not read, that we no longer wish to receive. We want spam to be deleted forever -- like a theological salvation, we want to be delivered from spam -- yet spam, like sin, is constantly renewed, something from which we find only momentary relief, if any at all. (link)


I found it accidentally while surfing for bootleg blog posts of the latest Stanley Fish column (on "career-ending gaffes"). Fish's column (found it) turns out to be not too terribly exciting, but along the way I found this blog post on the changing status of Authorship at Snarkmarket, which links to this article in Forbes on the future of the book in the age of network technology and digitization. According to Ben Vershbow, we are headed for an era of "network books," collective, Wikified editing, and "crowdsource" annotations. But it isn't necessarily going to be an era where authorship is entirely abolished. Arguably, authors are going to be more important than ever as information gets more and more confusing -- but as navigators rather than as "originators."

It's a step short of "Digital Maoism," a concept which was defined here and discussed in this New York Times article.


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