PleaseSpam.US, serving spam as a revenge.


Transmediale 2008 invited participants to “conspire” and, during the festival, the intrinsic potential of this call was extensively explored. One of these opportunities was undoubtedly offered by Jonah Brucker-Cohen with PleaseSpam.Us project. It is a web (2.0) based collaborative filtering project and voting system that encourages people to submit email addresses and vote on whether those addresses are worthy of attracting spammers. Email spam, also known as unsolicited bulk email (UBE) or unsolicited commercial email (UCE), is the practice of sending unwanted email messages, frequently with commercial content, in large quantities to an indiscriminate set of recipients. Email is an extremely cheap mass medium, and professional spammers have automated their processes to a highly extent. Millions of email addresses can be cheaply purchased from an underground industry harvesting email address and selling then huge databases. The so called Spam Bots, web crawlers gathering email addresses from websites, newsgroups, special-interest group (SIG) postings, and chat-room conversations, collecting them endlessly. Email addresses have a distinctive format, so spambot software is easy to write. Thus, spamming can be very profitable even at extremely low response rates. The PleaseSpam.Us website acts as a locus for conspiring against the oppressors at large. Receiving enough “votes”, the email address is then placed on the project home page, coded to attract “spambots” that will eventually send unpredictable amount of spam to them. With this project Jonah Brucker-Cohen feeds his work on “Deconstructing Networks“. His research includes projects that critically challenge and subvert acknowledged perceptions of network interaction and experience. And this work seem to give back to the user the voice to claim public attention on email abuse as a new mass broadcasting system. Revealingly, the President of the United States is at the top of the potential spam recipients list.

Valentina Culatti