Mena Received Some Funny Spam.

Saturday, July 06 2002


received some funny spam. Normally I’d chuckle at the entry, and move on, but in this particular case, I think I may have actually played a role in the origins of this piece of spam. Keep in mind this is a big maybe, but here’s how the story goes.

At my first Internet job back in ‘95, some coworkers and I were discussing the strange viral patterns of chain emails. Discussion, as it always does, quickly moved into the question of "If you could time travel, would you try to go back and mess with David Hasselhoff’s career to be spared from him today?" (Remember, back in ‘95, Baywatch was in full swing). Just as quickly as conversation jumped to hypothetical time travel, the conversation took both ideas, time travel, and email and combined them into one idea.

If time travel were possible, those who had the ability would likely lay low, and not make a big deal about it. But they might be willing to share the ability with someone who they truly felt was worthy or in need of the ability.

Thus, over greasy taquitos, a task force was assembled to send out an email with the intention of convincing time travellers to share their knowledge with us. The ploy to get them out of their shell was something like "I was a time traveller. I lost my special time travelling device somehow, I’ve been working on a cure for cancer for the past 100 years, and I’m close to a break through, but I’m 91 and will surely die soon." We’d tickle the fancy of humanitarian time travellers, because evil ones were likely not to share.

We were a medium size ISP, with many email addresses. We had friends who were also medium sized ISPs. With our combined pool, we were going to start the base at about 25,000 active emailers. A pretty good start.

The problem is, as ideas spawned at lunch usually go, the idea was “lost and forgotten” after lunch. I was supposed to come up with the text, another coworker was going to ready the spam machine, and another coworker was going to write a script on the email server to see if it was getting forwarded out by our customers to satisfy our curiosity.

Until today when I saw Mena’s post, I figured it never happened. But now, I suspect that it did happen, and the email she got was a direct product of that lunch conversation seven years ago. Whether I not I can prove that is going to be hard. I plan on tracking down those who might have been involved and ask them about it.