Information sharing and the Internet


Many years ago I was working at the UW-Madison. Madison is a great town, I loved it a lot. One of the good bits was this local satire paper called The Onion. This paper would show up around campus on Wednesdays. Our lab, like many university employees and students, looked forward to Wednesday and the new humor The Onion would bring to us.
At the same time, I was internet friends with an employee of JPL. I’d met him, like I met many of my online acquaintances, through a pet related mailing list.
One Wednesday, The Onion published an article Mir Scientists Study Effects of Weightlessness on Mortal Terror. As this was the time when the Internet consisted of people banging rocks together, there was not an online link to Onion articles. But I was sure my friend at JPL, and all his friends, would appreciate the joke. That night I stayed late at the lab and typed the article into an email (with full credit to the Onion) and mailed it off to him.
As expected, the article garnered quite a few chuckles and was passed around to various folks inside JPL. What wasn’t expected was another friend, from totally different circles, sending me a copy of that same article 3 days later. Yes, in 1997 it took three days for information to be shared full circle on the Internet.
Information sharing is a whole lot quicker now, with things coming full circle in mere seconds. But that doesn’t make the information any more reliable and true. Take a recent article in ZDNet Research: Spammers actively harvesting emails from Twitter in real-time.
ZDNet links to a study published by Websense, claiming that email addresses on Twitter were available for harvesting.
That’s all well and good, but all ZDNet and Websense are saying is that email addresses are available for harvesting. I’ve not seen any evidence, yet, that spammers are harvesting and sending to them. This doesn’t, of course, mean they’re not, but it would be nice to see the spam email received at an address only shared on twitter.
Well, I have unique addresses and an un-spamfiltered domain. I went ahead and seeded a tagged address onto twitter. We’ll see if it gets harvested and spammers start sending to it. I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

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  • Have you received anything? I set a single trap on Twitter – which is recognizable as such from a mile distance – but I just received my first spam on it.

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