My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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today i understand teens (fucking spam)

When Melora Zaner told me that teens didn’t use email, she was talking about the generational gap of preferred communication methods. Although i’m anxiously awaiting her actual report on this, it doesn’t surprise me in the least. Around 1998, colleges stopped giving out email accounts and pretty much everyone reverted to free accounts (Hotmail, Yahoo and the like). Hotmail purports to have about 1/4 of all email addresses worldwide.

This week, i got the first spam burst that has truly crippled me. Normally, i’ll get a burst of like 10000 messages; it’ll piss off my ISP, make a mess out of my phone and whathaveyou. But this current round is unbearable. Some spam system is hitting random things like joe [at] danah [dot] org and ben and a lot of other random first names. I used hundreds of names at my domain name for specialized addresses. I have no clue which ones i use. But i do know that i can’t handle this, my phone can’t handle this, and i’m utterly uninterested in coping with it.

Personally, i’m horrified by technological communications. My voice mail crashed this week. My email is a wreck. Fucking spammers have inundated my blogs. I just want face-to-face interactions without having to deal with organizing them. This is when i really wonder what life was like before the phone (or even the telegraph). I definitely have romanticized notions of moments of showing up a the town pub when i want to be social.


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8 comments to today i understand teens (fucking spam)

  • Whoa girl chill… just think about it this way – without all this pesky technology many people would have been deprived of the experience of knowing you… and that would really be a loss. Besides, you can always go to a pub and interact socially there if you feel like it. Just consider this – face-to-face interactions can sometimes cause similar level so resentment, only you can’t turn them off as easily. Even when grumbly you are cute 😉

  • Dav

    Sounds like you need a something like SpamAssassin running on your mail server, so things get tossed into the junk bucket before you have to download them to your local mail client.

  • Aeonn

    Sounds like a side effect of My Doom. A lot of web admins have been getting large loads of mail, sent to “any name” at domain. Change your “catch all” to a different address and don’t DL that mail. Check it every now and then and dump it if need be.

  • Ben

    Its MyDoom. It sends emails to random names at real domain names. Fun!

  • I haven’t had a phone since April of last year. Interestingly, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the real-world meetings now that I’m operating my life without a phone. The primary way I run into people is at the “pubs” downtown — Eugene has a cluster of several liquor establishments within a couple square blocks, and here, everyone’s two hops away from everyone else.

    It’s rather nifty; I think I like it. Eventually I’ll have to break down and get a phone, if only for job purposes, but I’m quite pleased with the way things have worked out socially here so far.

  • Clueless Postmasters, Stupid MicroBots, I Hate You

    I really do. See, the new “virus” (or as I like to call it: “Windows User Reality Check”) doesn’t bother…

  • Clueless Postmasters, Stupid MicroBots, I Hate You

    I really do. See, the new “virus” (or as I like to call it: “Windows User Reality Check”) doesn’t bother…

  • But, let me ask gently, aren’t you just expressing frustration with your own addiction, as you wrote about in a recent post?

    I work on social software so I’m as much of an addict as you, but I just took a 2 week vacation from the web, didn’t check my email for a 10 day stretch, read no blogs, stayed offline, and it was very nice. I got other stuff done, saw friends in person, and worked on a novel that I’ve been wanting to finish for awhile.

    Bouts of abstinence might be a successful strategy for all of us.

    Or consider this:

    Between 1870 and 1920 the price of food fell by an order of magnitude, and during the 1920s psychiatrists began reporting a new mental disorder among teenage girls that they called Anorexia Nervousa. Between 1950 and 2000 the price of information fell be several orders of magnitude (the amount, of course, depends on how you measure). What new mental disorders can we now expect? If abundant food lead to the rise of new mental disorders, won’t abundant information also?