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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Why that employee alumni spam is so bothersome

It looks like I'm not the only person to receive one of these idiotic Google Alumni Network mails. Today, Skud got one, too.

I've had a couple of months to reflect on receiving this, and I think I have finally figured out why it felt so awkward and bizarre. First of all, it's spam. It's stuff I don't want and didn't request, and, aha, I have no business relationship with them. I am the product, as evidenced by the fact I pay no money and they sell my eyeballs to advertisers.

But, it's worse than that. So, okay, it's spam. I've been dealing with filtering that crap from my inbound mail for 15 years. Back in the old days, I used to put together files on spammers, and I'd get them kicked off their ISPs. Later, I started using various DNS-based blackhole lists: the original RBL, ORBS, SPEWS, and so many others.

Problem is, this is Google. You can't really filter them. Also, they are their own provider. Back in the day, you'd go to someone's bandwidth connectivity provider to yell about spam. Can you do that now? Nope. Well, I mean, you could, but you'd just come off as yet another wingnut.

Unless you go out into the woods of Oregon and start plinking fiber aerials with a rifle, get really precise about where you bury your cows in the heartland, or start training attack blue herons, you're not going to take Google offline. They're woven into everything.

For some people, this is awesome.

For others, it's up there with "too big to fail". And it will just get worse. Yaaaaaay.