REVIEW: "Spam Kings", Brian McWilliams

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BKSPMKNG.RVW   20050610

"Spam Kings", Brian McWilliams, 2005, 0-596-00732-9, U$22.95/C$33.95
%A   Brian McWilliams
%C   103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA   95472
%D   2005
%G   0-596-00732-9
%I   O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
%O   U$22.95/C$33.95 707-829-0515 fax: 707-829-0104
%O  ( product link shortened)
  ( product link shortened)
%O   Audience n+ Tech 1 Writing 2 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P   333 p.
%T   "Spam Kings"

This book is the story of some spammers, and some anti-spammers,
during the period from about 1998 to 2003.  The stories are not, as in
other works, separated by chapters, but are interwoven in roughly
chronological order.

After a while, you begin to realize that much of the material is
padded out with conversations taken from old Usenet archives, as well
as instant messaging and IRC (Internet Relay Chat) logs.  Oddly
enough, these aren't as interesting as they sound.  The conversations
aren't particularly illuminating, and tend to be arguments on the
level of schoolyard fights.  In fact, almost nobody in the book comes
across as an attractive or sympathetic character: even the "good guys"
seem to be self-righteous, petty, vindictive, and occasionally just
plain, outright nasty.

The book does not provide much insight into spam protection
technology: that is probably not the intent.  Neither does it describe
spamming technology as such, and many would likely consider this
restraint to be a good thing.  Instead, the book concentrates on the
fight between the spamming and anti-spamming forces, but does not go
into any detail on those technologies either, using narratives, and
references to the fact that certain research is undertaken, without
any suggestion of how this might be accomplished.

Those seriously interested in the fight against spam will likely find
something in this work to redeem the cost of it.  Those who simply
want to use email, and who are annoyed by spam, may believe that they
have obtained some insight into the phenomenon after reading the text.
But it's difficult to say what value or intelligence that might be.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 2005   BKSPMKNG.RVW   20050610

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