My blog on spam lit was published today by Guardian Unlimited:
“Here’s what happened. In order to bypass increasingly efficient filters, spammers began embedding blocks of text — often pilfered from great literary works via Project Gutenberg — in their junk mail. Techniques like the Dissociated Press algorithm were employed to randomly generate new, essentially meaningless texts or text collages (“word salads”) so that each message would seem unique. Lee Ranaldo has compared the outcome to a “dictionary exploded”. Another early aficionado, Ben Myers, observed that “it was as if the text had somehow been remixed and shat out down the wires of modernity”. “Spam Lit”, as Jesse Glass dubbed it in 2002, uncannily mirrored bona fide literary experiments that were taking place simultaneously: Jeff Noon‘s exploration — through textual sampling and remixing — of “metamorphiction” in Cobralingus; Jeff Harrison‘s aleatoric poems based on Markov chains; or even Kenji Siratori‘s baffling cyber-gibberish”.