April 30, 2005

Odd Forgeries

I get spam from people with outlandishly faked name. I get spam from people with plausible fake names. Julie (Jellybean to her friends) has been sending me a lot, lately.

Juan Cole (or someone) just sent me what might be spam -- or might be broadcast email -- about a passionate debate he's been having with Matt Haughey. The email took the form of a "look at this" forward from someone even more famous than Cole or Haughey -- in this case, from Tim Berners-Lee.

Thing is, I do sometimes get mail from Tim. He used to be another guy who went to the hypertext conference, back Before It Changed. It's plausible. Hell, maybe it's exactly what it appears to be. (After McLuhan, everyone knows someone who is kind of famous. One of my little sister's playmates grew up to be Darryl Hannah.)

The other thing is that Cole is a professor (at Michigan), and forging email is pretty unambiguously a lie. You can lose your tenure over a lie. Cole is already an A-list blogger, so the reward doesn't seem to balance the risk.

Perhaps it's a third party, hoping to do Cole a favor -- or an unfavor?