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Australian IT - At last, spam you can trance to (Bernard Lane, APRIL 09, 2002)
Australian IT

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

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At last, spam you can trance to
Bernard Lane
APRIL 09, 2002
SPAMRADIO - it's a turn-on, the only non-stop and no-charge broadcast guaranteed to make you richer and slimmer, smarter and sexier!

A new and slightly unnerving website converts junk email into robotic speech, backs it with music you might hear in a new-age funeral parlour, and floods the internet with a never ending audio stream of trans-figured spam.

Why? "Hopefully Spamradio lets people see that the content of spam is often as hugely entertaining as it is ludicrous," says Richard Airlie, one of the site's founders and a computer programmer in Scotland.

"Before Spamradio I would instinctively delete any junk mail I received without even looking at it," he said. "Now, though, I'm quite glad to receive spam mail and view each one as a potential source of entertainment.

"It's the ability to get something positive out of something negative. Spam isn't going to go away."

Not when it produces gems of the sort celebrated on the website's Top 10 Spams.

There's a polite Nigerian scam spam ("Loyal sir," it begins), spiritual spam ("Become a legally ordained priest" within 48 hours and "marry your brother, sister or best friend") and plain strange spam ("You'll never have to touch your toilet seat again").

It's made stranger by trancelike music - mostly from the electronica label Monotonik - and the monotonic delivery of the text-to-speech engine - untold riches? Better sex? A new-slimmer you? - in the end, spam has a sameness.

Maybe it needs an Australian injection? "It would be great to mix text from Neighbours and text from junk email into a massive block of solid art," says Airlie, who is looking at other, as yet secret ways, of "using input from the Net to create art".

The beauty of junk email is that it just arrives at the Spamradio server. Then it enters "a complex arrangement of pipes and funnels" - as the homepage quaintly puts it - and emerges in streaming MP3 format, one for low bandwidth, one for high.

What do you need to tune in and turn on? "A modern computer, a connection to the internet, and a complete set of (2) working ears."

So far Spamradio hasn't heard from any spammers, grateful that at last somebody appreciates their work.

But what would Airlie say if - like anyone else enraged by a junk-cluttered inbox - he could corner a spammer in a locked room? "I'd tell him about a pyramid scheme that he simply couldn't miss out on." Sounds too good to miss.

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