Spam. Now if you use e-mail, you know exactly what I am talking about: unwanted annoying e-mails promising you, amongst other things, a larger organ, a slimmer waist, free money or the end of wrinkles. But why call it spam? An article in the Nouvel Observateur gives us some precious information. Spam was made famous by a Monty Python sketch and is a kind of rather unpalatable cheap canned meat. We can understand the link between unwanted food of poor quality and unwanted e-mails of poor quality. Fair enough. But what about the origins of the word spam itself? Well, I was very surprised to hear that it is in fact a contraction of “spiced ham”. I quite like the usual French translation (although “spam” is commonly used in French), which also merges two words in one, “pourri” (rotten) and “courriel” (e-mail) to give us “pourriel”. The ever-evolving and imaginative vocabulary the Internet has given birth to is a constant source of joy for me.
The article goes on to give advice on how to avoid spam and I thought it might be useful to quote it:

  • Do not reply to spam and above all, do not click on its links
  • Do not forward spam, delete it!
  • Use email addresses with numbers in (like maggie1234simpson@thingie.com)
  • Do not use your email address in discussion forums or on a personal site
  • Create a second email address to use when you surf

You can also download software (Mozilla, SpamNet or K9) to protect your inbox on www.zdnet.com.