Book Review: "Spam Kings", Brian McWilliams


"Spam Kings", Brian McWilliams, 2005, 0-596-00732-9, U$22.95/C$33.95 %A Brian McWilliams %C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472 %D 2005 %G 0-596-00732-9 %I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. %O U$22.95/C$33.95 707-829-0515 fax: 707-829-0104 %O

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Audience n+ Tech 1 Writing 2 (see revfaq.htm for explanation) %P 333 p. %T "Spam Kings"

This book is the story of some spammers, and some anti-spammers, during the period from about 1998 to 2003. The stories are not, as in other works, separated by chapters, but are interwoven in roughly chronological order.

After a while, you begin to realize that much of the material is padded out with conversations taken from old Usenet archives, as well as instant messaging and IRC (Internet Relay Chat) logs. Oddly enough, these aren't as interesting as they sound. The conversations aren't particularly illuminating, and tend to be arguments on the level of schoolyard fights. In fact, almost nobody in the book comes across as an attractive or sympathetic character: even the "good guys" seem to be self-righteous, petty, vindictive, and occasionally just plain, outright nasty.

The book does not provide much insight into spam protection technology: that is probably not the intent. Neither does it describe spamming technology as such, and many would likely consider this restraint to be a good thing. Instead, the book concentrates on the fight between the spamming and anti-spamming forces, but does not go into any detail on those technologies either, using narratives, and references to the fact that certain research is undertaken, without any suggestion of how this might be accomplished.

Those seriously interested in the fight against spam will likely find something in this work to redeem the cost of it. Those who simply want to use email, and who are annoyed by spam, may believe that they have obtained some insight into the phenomenon after reading the text. But it's difficult to say what value or intelligence that might be.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 2005 BKSPMKNG.RVW 20050610

====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer) Dulce et decorum est desipere in loco. (It is pleasant and proper to be foolish once in a while. A derivation from the more famous `Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori,' about dying for one's country, which may be more noble but is less fun.)

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