Spam and Gouda, part 1

I often hear people ask why unwanted e-mail is called spam. Nobody ever gives the right answer to this. How do I know? Because I was there, kiddies. I remember.

Pull up a chair and I’ll tell you a story …
a story of a lamer time, when many of us had heard of this internet doohickey, but had no idea what to do with it.

In the early days, most of us had only one way to access the ‘nets, and that was America Online. Remember getting CDs to install this in almost every computer magazine? Well, their marketing worked – we all went through their interface to get online. But then what?

There were websites, of course, in the early 90s, but they weren’t much to shout about and so hard to find. (I clearly recall one of my friends saying, “H-t-t-p, then w-w-w, a period, Pepsi, another period, and C-o-m. Who do they think is going to remember all those letters?”) So, sooner or later, most of us ended up in the chatrooms.

I submit to you that, no matter what era, chatrooms are lame. Back then, of course, they didn’t even separate us into categories or interests. It was just just Chatroom #1, Chatroom #2, etc. And you couldn’t directly message people. Anything you typed showed up as just another line in the mish-mosh of data lines. Imagine holding a conversation at a ballgame if every damn person had a microphone tied to the loudspeakers.
I think my record was 15 minutes before I gave up.There were others who got bored just as quickly, but they made a sport of it. Geez- I’m such a geek I just called “tag” a sport! What they were doing was to jump from room to room in the chats. They’d start at chatroom #1 and start singing their song lyrics (in all caps), then switch to the next, do the same, etc. until they’d hit every chatroom. Along the way, they’d pick up joiners and eventually everyone would be in chatroom #1 singing the same song.Maybe I should have described it as a conga line.To the kids involved, it was a fun waste of time. To everyone else who was trying to follow an already jumbled conversation through this barrage of lyrics, it was the most annoying thing ever invented!Have you guessed the official song of the chatroom conga?”SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, LOVELY SPAM!”

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