This is my personal view and comments on the issues and events that I feel a need to talk about or express my view. You don't have to agree, but lets carry on a adult, discussion and maybe you will see it the right way, mine. ;)
What will attract people's interest?
Published on April 5, 2010 By ShadowWar In Living in Cyberspace

Without lying to people, and giving false information, what would make the below experiment work better (more people taking part?). Aside from increasing the number each person sends the message too? Suggestions are welcome and your internet insights are also going to be looked at by my class.

This was the experiment, the below e-mail was sent by my students to 2 people by each student only:

The Social Network Explosion and Distributed Network Information Possibilities, how can they benefit mankind in general??

Recently there have been several news stories nationwide about how Social Networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter to name a few) have been used to spread word of an event that eventually led to thousands if not tens of thousands of people showing up in one spot to get together for a single purpose, some of them violent and anti-social in nature. While watching one of these news stories a light went on!!

My name is Chris Wagoner and I teach computer forensics at Santa Fe College. One of the techniques we use in this area is the idea of Distributed Network Attacking of a problem. In really simplified terms, we spread the work out over many different computers to bring the computer power of all of them into one super computer of sorts. The power is unbelievable and very good at solving problems. It is so good in fact that different research projects from several major universities now use this distributed computing to work on problems like curing cancer and climate prediction (http://boinc.berkeley.edu/) . That’s when I thought what if we could use this power of the information super highway for uses like notifying people of pending danger, or notify people of missing children or of some other socially beneficial use? What a huge advancement for information sharing that it could become. Then I thought how would we do this, how could it be accomplished without intruding on people too much or causing people to think it was too hard to do? That’s when I thought of the dreaded chain e-mail and how fast some of those spread around the world and cause so much e-mail. Math is in the favor of them.

If one person starts an e-mail with a socially relevant notice on it or the location on the internet of a video or posting of some kind, and they send it to two people, and they send it to two people each and so on, the numbers quickly grow exponentially, doubling with every send! And if the message goes on for about 20 minutes (figuring it takes only about 1 minute to forward a message to two people) then 1 became 2 and 2 became 4 and 8,,… and on until 20 minutes later there are 1,048,576 people being notified!!! What if it ran on for an hour!! WOW!!! A day??? (the mathematical numbers get to big to write here at that point!!) So how do we test this or how do we set it up to see if it works?

Of the 5 billion spam messages sent out a day across the internet, a few good ones, that could help someone out should not make a real difference in your inbox, but may help someone’s life along the way.

So will you help me with this Social Networking Experiment? I have set the video up and it has no views yet (that way we can track the hits). I am going to launch this test during my Data Forensics class and they are going to be the first few to get this. If you will click on the link to the video link (that allows me to track where and when and how many, then send it to ONLY 2 PEOPLE ON YOUR CONTACT LIST (that is very important!!!) I am going to see how well this works. If it does, I will be putting the data from the test together and approaching agencies like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, I see possibilities for AMBER Alerts, and emergency notices in your area about things like terrorist attacks, storm warnings and more. All done from a simple e-mail forward you do scores of times a day sometimes anyway. The possibilities are endless.

Step 1: click on video link (it is a cute, feel good story): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6guf24672Zs

Step 2: send this note to JUST 2 OF YOUR CONTACTS! (Be sure to delete the “FW:” before resending it)

In the future with the right planning and layout and website, notices could be sent out when needed and you would simply look for a Subject line like “DN Notice” or “SN Important” as key words. DN standing for Distributed Networking and SN for Social Networking. What a concept and what a great idea if it works. Using the power of the internet and e-mail and our natural instinct to share to the advantage of society in general. Nothing to join or sign up for is the best part, the infrastructure is already there, we just need to figure out how to use it!

 

Be well and stay safe!

Chris Wagoner

 

Chris Wagoner

Santa Fe College

Data Forensics/ Computer Crime Investigation Instructor

compci@sfcollege.edu

Social Networking Curiosity seeker!!!


Comments
on Apr 06, 2010

I have no suggestions.  I see the problem with the approach.  While the initial send out would garner attention (the small number of receipients), as soon as those emails are forwarded, the diminishing returns begin.  And of course the loss of quality control exists at stage 2.

And anyone who has been on the Internet for more than 2 years has already been banged so many time with hoaxes and lies sent out in this manner, that there is no credibility left in it. 

The beauty of the Internet is the fact it is largely unregulated.  However, for serious purposes, that is also its achilees heel.  There is no "Authority" that can come in and say "This is legitimate".  Even Snopes, while almost always on target, is not accurate enough to trust unequivocally.

on Apr 06, 2010

Whether it is a noble cause or not...it is still spam.

Unsolicited communication of any sort is abhorrent and repugnant.

I make it a point of NEVER forwarding such 'alleged' worthy-cause emails...because I can do my little bit to break the bastard cycle that is impulsive, mindless abuse of the Internet/mailing system.

The problem you WILL strike with this 'experiment' will be your immediate alienation from people with a social conscience who do NOT abuse the Telecommunications Act by disseminating unwanted communication.

on Apr 06, 2010

What would make this experiment better?

Plain and simple...flush it down the toilet!

on Apr 06, 2010

I think you would have better luck with a more solid action people can take.  The incidents you talk about it's not a public service announcement...it's we're going to go here and do this...you come too.   I could see you using social media in a way to highlight your cause by posting to your friends and they can then act on it or not. 

I think sending an email is not the way to go.  I think the other responders are right...it is almost an unthinking response to delete and not take any action.

on Apr 07, 2010

Whether it is a noble cause or not...it is still spam.Unsolicited communication of any sort is abhorrent and repugnant.I make it a point of NEVER forwarding such 'alleged' worthy-cause emails...because I can do my little bit to break the bastard cycle that is impulsive, mindless abuse of the Internet/mailing system.The problem you WILL strike with this 'experiment' will be your immediate alienation from people with a social conscience who do NOT abuse the Telecommunications Act by disseminating unwanted communication.

By your definition you are prohibited from sending any e-mail at all as the first transmission of any e-mail you yourself would generate would be considered spam. "Unsolicited communication of any sort is abhorrent and repugnant." How do you ever start a conversation with anyone via e-mails?

Thank you for all of your comments. I appreciate all the responses. What we are looking for are the "triggers" that cause an e-mail to become viral in nature (of course not the virus as in program, but viral as in numbers of transmissions). The mere fact that sites like snopes and urban legends even exist are testaments to the very nature of the e-mail forwarding system.

We find that many times the base human nature feelings are involved in what is being forwarded, horror, death, surprise or excitement, fear and others seem to be just a few of the triggers that help a e-mail become viral. Tapping into that natural response of many people who do these types of things is part of the informational gathering portion of my classes project. Imagine the socially beneficial concepts that could be distributed this way. The research is into the how and why of the event, not just the content itself, while that is important.

Not to worry I am not flooding peoples in boxes with SPAM. LOL But based on the Internets biggest area of usage (e-mail) it should be an interesting area for analyzing the very events that could be subject to this type of use.

Thanks again for the comments.

 

on Apr 07, 2010

By your definition you are prohibited from sending any e-mail at all as the first transmission of any e-mail you yourself would generate would be considered spam. "Unsolicited communication of any sort is abhorrent and repugnant." How do you ever start a conversation with anyone via e-mails?

That's right...attempt to justify a stance by taking it to the extreme with a poor analogy.

Typically I DON'T initiate emails.  Work-wise they are only in response to communications via alternate media/method and are thus expected.

Being the unwitting recipient/audience to 'brainless communications' is sadly something you get to 'enjoy' when you have a career in Radio Communications in Motor Racing - where actual intelligence/competence is not always a prerequisite.  Having some moron blathering in your ear with facile bullshit while you can't escape is one really good way to 'win friends and influence people'.

'Chain-letter' communications [pyramid schemes] are usually somewhere between ill-advised and illegal in most places.

Re your specific 'experiment'....I think the LAST THING people need is a chain-letter-based Terrorist Alert from some hand-me-down relay from an unknown sender....certainly where each 'resending' could be interfered with.

And the OTHER LAST THING the world needs is for someone to determine exactly what 'makes an email become viral' so they can adopt whatever findings and incorporate in new and improved spamming.

One of my roles on Wincustomize.com is to remove spam...and spammers from Stardock's sites.  Perhaps if we Admins/mods were to leave them [spammers and their messages] untouched for a month you'd see a real experiment of how a site [and its community] can go to crap in no time.

Modern technology [computers] are not the saviour of the business world....offices still are NOT paperless...and productivity falls off when people have to deal with junk communications aka spam aka chain-letters aka fluffy the cat doing something cute/funny.

on Apr 07, 2010

By your definition you are prohibited from sending any e-mail at all as the first transmission of any e-mail you yourself would generate would be considered spam. "Unsolicited communication of any sort is abhorrent and repugnant." How do you ever start a conversation with anyone via e-mails? That's right...attempt to justify a stance by taking it to the extreme with a poor analogy.Typically I DON'T initiate emails.  Work-wise they are only in response to communications via alternate media/method and are thus expected.Being the unwitting recipient/audience to 'brainless communications' is sadly something you get to 'enjoy' when you have a career in Radio Communications in Motor Racing - where actual intelligence/competence is not always a prerequisite.  Having some moron blathering in your ear with facile bullshit while you can't escape is one really good way to 'win friends and influence people'.'Chain-letter' communications [pyramid schemes] are usually somewhere between ill-advised and illegal in most places.Re your specific 'experiment'....I think the LAST THING people need is a chain-letter-based Terrorist Alert from some hand-me-down relay from an unknown sender....certainly where each 'resending' could be interfered with.And the OTHER LAST THING the world needs is for someone to determine exactly what 'makes an email become viral' so they can adopt whatever findings and incorporate in new and improved spamming.One of my roles on Wincustomize.com is to remove spam...and spammers from Stardock's sites.  Perhaps if we Admins/mods were to leave them [spammers and their messages] untouched for a month you'd see a real experiment of how a site [and its community] can go to crap in no time.Modern technology [computers] are not the saviour of the business world....offices still are NOT paperless...and productivity falls off when people have to deal with junk communications aka spam aka chain-letters aka fluffy the cat doing something cute/funny.

WOW you need a day off to relax. Take one on me.

Thanks for your comments..

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