A view of the world from my own unique perspective

Don’t Poison The Well

Whenever we invent something useful or enjoyable, eventually someone always messes it up.

Years ago, I was watching a move called Alien Nation, about an invasion of highly intelligent humanoid aliens called the Newcomers. One alien, called George, made an insightful comment. He said “You humans set such lofty behavioural standards for yourselves, yet you continually fail to meet them”.

I’m glad that we Earthlings have such great collective ambition, but would like I urge everyone to “walk the walk”, instead of merely “talking the talk”.

Back in the late 1960s early 1970s, well before my time, FM radio was becoming popular in North America. Unlike Am radio with its top-40 music, garrulous disk jockeys, a plethora of commercials and inane listener contests, FM radio was different. It broadcast more obscure music, with fewer commercials and less disk jockey banter. In the 1970s, FM stations would often play entire record albums without interruption. Today, most FM stations sound just like AM stations used to in the 1970s and 1980s. The frequency modulation well has been poisoned.

In 1969, a precursor to the Internet, called ARPAnet (Advanced Research Projects Agency) was developed to ensure government communication in the event of a nuclear war. One feature was a rudimentary e-mail and newsgroup network, used by university professors to exchange ideas and information.

All of that changed on April 12 1994, when a lawyer from the firm Canter & Siegel sent the first mass-mailed, unsolicited advertisement on this exclusively academic network [distribute printout of first spam e-mail]. This was the first drop of poison in the e-mail well. As of December 2004, unsolicited e-mail advertising comprises 90% of e-mail. Not only are these messages unwanted, but they often harbour dangerous cargo, in the form of viruses, or they are attempts to steal confidential personal data. The once pristine pond, is now a toxic mire.

Recently, something new is entering the collective consciousness, and is still pristine: satellite radio, also known as XM radio. These subscription-only channels, play every type of music imaginable, often commercial-free, without DJs or other interruptions. We have dug a new well let’s enjoy it, share it with others, and above all — resist the temptation to poison it.

[Below is the first “spam” e-mail message, sent on April 12, 2994]

Path: gmd.de!urmel.informatik.rwth-aachen.de!newsserver.rrzn.uni-
hannover.de! hrz-ws11.hrz.uni-kassel.de!news.th-darmstadt.de!fauern!
zib-berlin.de!netmbx.de! Germany.EU.net!EU.net!howland.reston.ans.net!
europa.eng.gtefsd.com!hookup! news2.sprintlink.net!news.sprintlink.net!
indirect.com!nike From: n...@indirect.com (Laurence Canter) Newsgroups:
alt.bonehead.paul-hendry,alt.online-service.america-online 
Subject: Green Card Lottery- Final One? 
Date: 12 Apr 1994 07:40:23 GMT 
Organization: Canter & Siegel 
Lines: 34 
Message-ID: <2odj97$25f@herald.indirect.com> 
NNTP-Posting-Host: id1.indirect.com 

Green Card Lottery 1994 May Be The Last One! THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN 
ANNOUNCED. The Green Card Lottery is a completely legal program giving 
away a certain annual allotment of Green Cards to persons born in 
certain countries. The lottery program was scheduled to continue on a 
permanent basis. However, recently, Senator Alan J Simpson introduced 
a bill into the U. S. Congress which could end any future lotteries. 

THE 1994 LOTTERY IS SCHEDULED TO TAKE PLACE SOON, BUT IT MAY BE THE 
VERY LAST ONE. PERSONS BORN IN MOST COUNTRIES QUALIFY, MANY FOR FIRST 
TIME. The only countries NOT qualifying are: Mexico; India; P.R. China; 
Taiwan, Philippines, North Korea, Canada, United Kingdom (except 
Northern Ireland), Jamaica, Domican Republic, El Salva- dor and 
Vietnam. Lottery registration will take place soon. 55,000 Green Cards 
will be given to those who register correctly. 

NO JOB IS REQUIRED. THERE IS A STRICT JUNE DEADLINE. THE TIME TO START 
IS NOW!! 

For FREE information via Email, send request to cs...@indirect.com 
***************************************************************** 
Canter & Siegel, Immigration Attorneys 3333 E Camelback Road, Ste 250, 
Phoenix AZ 85018 USA cs...@indirect.com telephone (602)661-3911 
Fax (602) 451-7617
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