Thursday, December 15

Some worthless sack of shit's spambot hit p1k3 earlier today, the first time it's happened in a while. Another straightforward demonstration of the principle that any medium with a sufficiently low transmission cost will become saturated with advertising to the point of its utter destruction.

It's not that it would be impossible to assign responsibility for spam — certainly there's moral agency involved, and I would derive a certain glee from visiting wrathful destruction on the facilities, personal effects, and livelihoods of those directly responsible — it's more that the principles by which it operates seem to be so fundamental and generalizable that the identity of the perpetrators in a given case is almost irrelevant to the problem. It's more about epidemiology. To partially rip off my friend Levi's thoughts on the two-party system in American politics, spam is an emergent property of open, very-low-cost communications systems in a sufficiently populated environment.

The question becomes an essentially technical one: Once a system reaches a spammable user population, how do you tune the system so that spamming it is no longer cost-effective without either drastically reducing its openness or increasing its cost (which is really just one of many ways to close a system)?

I have yet to see a particularly satisfactory solution. Maybe one doesn't exist.