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Tuesday, January 21, 2003

What We Need is An Anti-Spam Revolution... or at the very least, a good book

Cory, I'm glad you mentioned the spam thing. Second time today I've read a beef about the stuff. The always-respectable business journalist Dana Blankenhorn also weighed in on this issue today, with the unorthodox stance "Blame Jeff Bezos" [The Secret Truth of Spam, Jan. 21, 2003].

Of course, I made the same point (that the spam mentality is built in to the "permission" strategies of major corporations, and that the problem is only going to get worse, to the detriment of legitimate information publishers) about 2.5 years ago, but who's counting ["Hey Corporate America - Stay Out of My Inbox," The Globe and Mail, September 12, 2000]?

At the time, I felt a whole book was needed to develop the hypothesis that the larger companies, not spammers, are the greatest and most insidious threat to our inboxes, because of their penchant for fudging ethics when it comes to finding a new way to break through the advertising clutter. Taking spam, and calling it permission, is truly a marvelous con game, as duly admitted by a red-faced (but not guilty) Seth Godin [Permission Marketers: Did We Blow It?, September 6, 2001]. I still think it's a topic that needs to be addressed intelligently. There is next to nothing decent written on the subject. In fact the best books on spam, both fiction and non, seem to be referring nostalgically to the lovable lunchmeat itself!

The demonization of "spammers" - while justified - is a nice red herring that diverts our collective attention away from the broader problem. You can create regulatory bodies (hey, there already are some, especially in Europe) who will "chase down spammers." Unfortunately the paranoid regulatory fervor (one European group was making hysterical noises about - get this - "Chinese spam gangs from Toronto" - GANGS!!! - kind of the moral equivalent of the Newfoundland seal hunt, I guess) pretty much misses the point. "Permission" marketing is soon going to lose whatever legitimacy it had left because permission has been abused nearly from Day One of the concept's invention.

So whaddya say, guys? Are you in? Let's write that book! My people will be in touch with your people.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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