The Future of Spam
by Fernando de la Cuadra - Friday, 4 May 2007.
There are two levels missing from this structure: the most basic; the first, and the last; the highest level. Obtaining the first level, which represents the basic survival needs, has not been targeted by spam. It has a logical explanation, as the physical survival of people (food and drink) cannot be offered directly via the Internet.

The Internet is not going to provide water or food, or air to breathe. People make sure that they are fed and watered before they connect to the Internet, and they do so in environments in which they can breathe (although there are cyber-cafes for smokers). Therefore, it does not make sense to send spam messages offering an incredible soft drink. It does however, make more sense if it is part of an advertising campaign, but in this case, the level of the pyramid it targets is not the basic level but one of the higher levels (it could fall into level three or four).

The highest level, the tip of the pyramid, could also be targeted, in messages in which spammers ‘sell’ sects, churches or philosophies of life. This is a very sensitive element, and it is unlikely that someone would adopt a religion (or change religion) because they have been bombarded by email messages. It is true that many religions make the apostolate of its members a virtue, but messages urging people to “convert” cannot be very effective, as they are simply not sent.

However, the idea of the Internet is changing. The web 2.0 philosophy is creating many systems that can be compared to a better life, a future like that offered by many religions to it members. Second life, for example, is becoming a refuge for many users to realize their projects, or at least to interact with fellow humans in a different way to that conceived today.

There is a growing number of interactive systems, creating an ideal universe in which maybe nobody is who they are, only who they want to be. Therefore, it is highly possible that in the near future; spam aimed at social networks will appear, targeting the maximum level of the Maslow pyramid: achieving the final aims in life, even if it is in Second Life.

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