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Find the Spam
December 2, 2011 9:56 PM   Subscribe

Here is an artifact of the old internet: "Somewhere in the picture below we have cleverly hidden a can of spam.  If you think you've found the spam, click on it to find out if you're right.  You probably don't think there is any spam in the picture, but look closely.  Most people only find the spam after staring intently at the picture for several hours.
"Good luck and find that spam!"

Find the Spam is a relic.  It was made as a funny application for imagemap links, then a fairly new thing.  When I first saw this website, I was using Mosaic to view it from a Windows 3.1 machine in a college computer lab.

How old is Find the Spam?  This use of spam here is not a reference to junk email, because that use of the term was still fairly new back then.
posted by JHarris (71 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, and in before zombo.com.
posted by JHarris at 9:59 PM on December 2, 2011


Well there's egg and spam; egg, bacon and spam; egg, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam; spam, spam, spam, egg and spam; spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam, and spam; or lobster thermidor aux crevettes with a mornay sauce garnished with truffle pate, brandy and a fried egg on top and spam.

Have you got anything without spam in it?

I came here for an argument.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:04 PM on December 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


No you didn't.
posted by yiftach at 10:05 PM on December 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


And now, Radio Four will explode.

Then MetaFilter will implode.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:09 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate when people repost stuff from Cool Site of the Day on metafilter. So lazy.
posted by empath at 10:13 PM on December 2, 2011 [27 favorites]


Spam spam spam

Spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:15 PM on December 2, 2011


Look at all those dead links. That depresses me terribly.
posted by JHarris at 10:16 PM on December 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wow, earliest cool site of the day still active is froggy listed on Aug 8 1994! Neat that it has lasted all this time.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:18 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Equally impressive: Cool Site of the Day is itself still alive.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:24 PM on December 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


experience a world petrified in the pitch of darkness… when farting ruled the night.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:31 PM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm using html5. does it work to click the spam with html5?
posted by localhuman at 10:50 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll have your spam. I love it.
posted by tyllwin at 10:59 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is apparently the oldest MetaFilter post with a working link (not counting the MeFi-vamped cat-scan.com). The target site looks almost the same as it once did.
posted by knave at 10:59 PM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dr. Sphincter Finds the Spam.

(It's no Rest Stop Safari, but it has its moments.)
posted by Lazlo at 11:03 PM on December 2, 2011


Wait a minute..... Wasn't content discovery going to get more "social" and "curatorial", less reliance on ranking algorithms and more wisdom of the crowd?

Are we simply going back to the Cool Site of The Day model? Maybe Facebook or Google should snap them up! Web 3.0 = Web 1.0 done right.

Fuck it, I'm going to write a cool site of the day clone in Sinatra and throw it up on heroku, in a couple days I could have a couple mil in seed funding.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:06 PM on December 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Spam? It was either this — or balls." - Mr. T
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:10 PM on December 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


183957
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 11:19 PM on December 2, 2011


183957

Some people just can't tell a joke.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:21 PM on December 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hahaha so awwsome check this out.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:23 PM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


JHarris: "Look at all those dead links. That depresses me terribly."

Even more sad is that many of the (site no longer active)s are out of date. A broken link to CSU Entomology! I suddenly find myself sympathetic to Ted Nelson.
posted by vanar sena at 11:28 PM on December 2, 2011


Wow, earliest cool site of the day still active is froggy listed on Aug 8 1994!

PS I'll find my frog.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:29 PM on December 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


How old is Find the Spam? This use of spam here is not a reference to junk email, because that use of the term was still fairly new back then.
I'm not sure I agree. Spam was a problem in usenet as far back as 1992, and it was called spam back then. I don't know if the spam-as-bulk-commercial-posts reference is intentional, but anyone on the internet back then would be reminded when they saw the spam can.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:43 PM on December 2, 2011


What was so hard about that? I found the Spam. 2nd try.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:43 PM on December 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


OK, now I'm hungry.
posted by arcticseal at 11:59 PM on December 2, 2011


SPAM is MAPS spelled backwards.

I just blew your mind, didn't I?
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:09 AM on December 3, 2011


SPAM IS SPAM SPELLED SPAMWARDS
posted by Mikey-San at 1:09 AM on December 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


b1tr0t, I added that sentence in remembrance of my wondering, long ago before I clicked that link for the first time around 1994, if this had something to do with junk mail. As it turns out, it didn't. Nowadays I don't think someone would think to use such a loaded word for such an irrelevent purpose. Even the Monty Python spam song has diminished before email spam's terrible majesty.
posted by JHarris at 1:36 AM on December 3, 2011


Wow, this brought back happy memories of tbrbtdda. I spent hours exploring spatula city!
posted by fizban at 1:38 AM on December 3, 2011


Is this an American thing? I understand each of the words in your sentences individually. But together I'm perplexed. Spam is readily available in all supermarkets here. And thanks to gmail, I see it more often than the electronic variety.

Also...while we're talking odd things Americans say about food...what's with watermelons and African American folk? You chaps always talk about it but never give enough context.
posted by taff at 1:56 AM on December 3, 2011


Oh.. I googled. Crud, that's a harsh insult. Who even thinks of these racist slurs? Not only is the watermelon thing outrageously offensive, it's strange too. Would this accurately describe it?

I once heard it used with Obama's name and thought they were calling him a watermelon. I thought at the time how devestating, clever and succinct it was...green credentials on the outside and a raging red socialist/communist on the inside.

It looks like that's horrifically not the case. And now I can't say I'm a watermelon anymore. Because I have been saying it for a few years now.

So who does or does not eat spam, watermelon and pumpkin in the States?
posted by taff at 2:21 AM on December 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Look at all those dead links. That depresses me terribly.

But, happily, both The North Pole and Countdown to Christmas are still alive to radiate the type of festive cheer that is also compatible with antediluvian browsers.
posted by rongorongo at 2:27 AM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


taff: I have no idea what you are talking about.
posted by JHarris at 2:31 AM on December 3, 2011


Oh dear! Lots of time some racial things are alluded to here in the blue regarding watermelon.

I wondered if spam had a history, not necessarily racial, in the States.

And I just threw in pumpkin because Indian people and Tibetan refugees in India think Anglo folk are quite mad for eating pumpkin as that's for cows. I think maybe I'm massively derailing..
posted by taff at 2:55 AM on December 3, 2011


taff: "And I just threw in pumpkin because Indian people and Tibetan refugees in India think Anglo folk are quite mad for eating pumpkin as that's for cows."

Not sure which Indian people told you that, but it's not accurate. It's true though that pumpkin is not terribly common around here.

On spam, I don't think there's any racially-tinged history to spam, but there is a very strong pop cultural spam component to spam and spam.
posted by vanar sena at 4:22 AM on December 3, 2011


Pumpkin could be regional in its use - Bengali cuisine from the region around Calcutta uses a lot of it.

Those South Indians, though, just tend to smash it on the ground to prevent demons from entering the home.

Weird Indians.
posted by infini at 4:31 AM on December 3, 2011


I have some spam flavored macadamia nuts. They're tasty.
posted by jonmc at 4:52 AM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


spam ... a moose
posted by scruss at 5:03 AM on December 3, 2011


Actually Vanar, you're right. How unexamined of me. I can be a bit of a drip some times. I should have said "some Indian folk". I have almost exclusively lived and travelled in the north of India, HP and UP. Our last trip "home" we slugged around Rajasthan a bit too.

Interesting to know. I had always assumed that the attitude to pumpkin had, by osmosis, come from Indian people to the Tibetans as there doesn't seem to be many pumpkins in Tibet.

Maybe some of the attitude to them started with the Tibetan refugees there. Interesting thought. They certainly influence each other's cuisines up in the north.
posted by taff at 5:06 AM on December 3, 2011


I love this:

*Note: Do not enter anything terribly offensive, do not enter phone numbers or other people's email address, and no adventurous html please.

Back in the day, we prevented XSS attacks using the honor system.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:42 AM on December 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


So back to the original post topic/picture. Thanks Robot. I remember it at the time it was first on the net. What does it mean?
posted by taff at 5:47 AM on December 3, 2011


Spam is just Spasm spelled wrong.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:30 AM on December 3, 2011


Man, this takes me back to stuff like Spatula City, which stopped updating material in 1995. But you can still spend hours and hours pressing The Really Big Button That Doesn't Do Anything, play CyberStare, the Internet staring contest, or have your fortune told.

Alas, the link to live video of Twoflower's fridge (in .FLI format!) is long defunct, though I hear the soda-machine-cam is still up and working at MIT.

And it reminds me of one of the things I came across back in the day that makes me laugh every time it comes to mind: The Jean-Paul Sartre Cookbook.

Excerpt:
October 4

Still working on the omelet. There have been stumbling blocks. I keep creating omelets one after another, like soldiers marching into the sea, but each one seems empty, hollow, like stone. I want to create an omelet that expresses the meaninglessness of existence, and instead they taste like cheese. I look at them on the plate, but they do not look back. Tried eating them with the lights off. It did not help. Malraux suggested paprika.
posted by tzikeh at 7:04 AM on December 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


To be honest, the whole reason I posted this was because I first saw it over 15 years ago, remembered it fondly, and I found out it had never been in a FPP before. I hope Find The Spam lasts forever, although I think that about a lot of things.
posted by JHarris at 7:33 AM on December 3, 2011


The first site with "dynamic content" I saw was the Barney Fun Page. I couldn't get over the idea that I'd click something and about ten seconds later, I would see an image dynamically rendered as a direct response to my actions! My god, the possibilities...
posted by vanar sena at 7:40 AM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the sense of "Internet junk mail" it was coined by Usenet users after March 31, 1993, when Usenet administrator Richard Depew inadvertently posted the same message 200 times to a discussion group.

I was sure the term was older than that!
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:12 AM on December 3, 2011


Some of the content here reminds me of the early e-zine "Netsurfer Digest". Long before Metafilter was around it was my favourite way of finding interesting stuff. Here, to get back on topic, is their description of a "spam o gram" site from back in 1995.
posted by rongorongo at 8:23 AM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite site from the old Internet is Andi's Quotes.
posted by limeonaire at 8:45 AM on December 3, 2011


Bloody foreigners.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 8:56 AM on December 3, 2011


Lovely Spam, wonderful Spam.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 8:57 AM on December 3, 2011


My fondest spam memory from 1994 is of S.P.A.M., the Single-Player Adventure for the Macintosh. It was a bare-bones text adventure game engine, one of my first forays into programming. You could script a whole game into a single text file, drop it into the app folder and open S.P.A.M. to play or debug it. The syntax was minimal, and so were the options it provided, but it was a good way to get my feet wet. That and HyperCard (and later, Silicon Beach Software's World Builder) were responsible for turning me into the coder I am today.

AOL used to have a ton of S.P.A.M. games to download. And A-Train and SimCity save files, for some reason. Lot of dreck in there, come to think of it. But the occasional diamond made it worthwhile. I can't seem to find anything about S.P.A.M. online today, looks like it's been mostly lost to time. Even the World Builder community, once thriving, is in shambles now. *sheds a tear*
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:10 AM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh wow, smalltime.com.
posted by beefetish at 9:13 AM on December 3, 2011


I am laughing out loud. Hmmm. Maybe we should shorten that to LOL? Will it catch on like the rest of this "internet?"
posted by hot_monster at 9:15 AM on December 3, 2011


Now I want some watermelon.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:29 AM on December 3, 2011


I was sure the term was older than that!

The World Wide Web itself originated only in 1991. There could have been spam before then certainly, but for it to be profitable it needs a large body of users to prey off of, and the internet didn't really take off until web access became widespread. In 1993 many households didn't even have dial-up, and if they did they would have to have used a third-party winsock to connect. (Winsock! That's a word I haven't heard in a long time! Windows didn't acknowledge the internet existed until Windows 95 shipped with Windows Sockets as part of the OS., and Internet Explorer came around a bit after that.)
posted by JHarris at 9:52 AM on December 3, 2011


The Winsome Parker Lewis, if you could hunt up some information and archives of some of that old stuff somewhere on the web it'd make a marvellous FPP, I think.
posted by JHarris at 9:56 AM on December 3, 2011


Why, just the other day I decided to poke around the old Superbad. x42.com, however, is no longer the fascinating artifact it once was.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 10:38 AM on December 3, 2011


JHarris, good idea! I'll see what I can come up with. I heard there was a contest on or something...
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 10:41 AM on December 3, 2011


This is making me nostalgic for the days when almost the entire internet was in Times New Roman.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:42 AM on December 3, 2011


Ooo, I was just thinking of x42.
Poke Alex In the Eye is still around, tho it's a relative newcomer.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:13 PM on December 3, 2011


If I may counter this with my internet narrative of spam, people tried to spam before the whole AOL/WWW influx, but back then, there was a much more communal nature to the internet. When someone spammed, people found them and made their lives miserable.

Once the consumer model of the internet started taking over, people didn't have that ownership type of attitude toward it. Rather than accessing and using the internet by figuring things out and working to make it better, more and more people were just paying a third party for that access, so when they'd get spam, they'd either just delete it or complain to their providers rather than working addressing the root cause and just plain making it more trouble than it was worth.

And needless to say, I told them so. I told them over and over. I argued with those 'delete and ignore it' people, told them that, with their attitude, spam was only going to get worse and worse. And they laughed at me! LAUGHED!

My life goal is now to track them down. All of them. To go to their homes and their workplaces, where I will point my finger accusingly at them and say, "I told you so," then disappear as mysteriously as I arrived!

I just need to find them. Also, I think I probably need some kind of a cape.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:32 PM on December 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ooo, I was just thinking of x42.

Holy cats! jodi.org is still there!
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:43 PM on December 3, 2011


I was sure the term was older than that!

I would suggest "Spam Spamson's" Spam[TM]-themed posts to news.groups in the summer of 1990 as the seed from which the usage sprung. The subject line of his apology: "Sorry about the spam". Before then, mentions of "spam" seems to be mostly clever hostnames, Monty Python .sigfile quotes, and use as a metasyntactic variable (a la "foo", "bar", etc.).

Shortly thereafter, I found use of "spamming" in the MUD community to refer to the act of creating lots and lots of objects in a short time, usually with the intent of crashing the server. This could easily have developed separately, of course.

"Spamming" starts showing up in non-MUD contexts in '92. The first reference I found in an email context was, not surprisingly, in a May '92 flamewar crossposted between talk.abortion and talk.religion.misc. It doesn't really break out into broad use across Usenet until the following spring, during which "inappropriately frequent messages" seems to be the main meaning.

(Admittedly this is all pretty imprecise. It'd be easier to research if Google actually gave half of a shit about the Usenet archives -- usage predating the "Spam Spamson" posts wouldn't show up if it's in some alt. group Google doesn't have, or in messages the poster has had purged from the archive. jscott pointed me to the UTZOO tapes at archive.org recently, I may pull those and poke around a bit.)
posted by Lazlo at 2:00 PM on December 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Great, now Metafilter is going to become embroiled in the big-Spamian versus little-Mapsian wars of the eighties again.
posted by wintermind at 2:11 PM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Internet nostalgia time? Alright! While my first run-ins with the internet in the early 90s were mostly very basic message boards and e-mail, I didn't start to appreciate what a strange and terrible place it could be until watching vomit porn on Fugly (which is also apparently still around).

Outside of that, discovering a webpage as a work of art in itself didn't happen until I ran into I Can Still Tell Your Wife, Bill. At the time, people were still pretty gullible when it came to hoax sites (I don't think many people would fall for something like Bonzai Kitten today), but ICSTYWB has a tense, near-psychotic and wholly believable feel of real pain and unhingedness. To this day I cite it as an example of early internet dark madness.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:47 PM on December 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


The early interwebs were joyously full of dark or silly personal sites. Perhaps such still exist and they are just lost in the sea of spiffy commercial dross which passes for the internet these days.
posted by caddis at 4:22 PM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm glad people here are taking the FPP in the spirit in which it was intended, a remembrance of a vanished age of the internet.
posted by JHarris at 4:59 PM on December 3, 2011


I don't think many people would fall for something like Bonzai Kitten today

I really wish that were true. (It's SOOO not.)
posted by ShutterBun at 7:46 PM on December 3, 2011


Every now and then I have to give a lecture on the history of the internet, to a bunch of students that generally don't have much of an idea of all the wild, wonderful, and creative stuff: or the sins against graphic design and general decency that went on back in the day, and more generally have no sense of history.

Having some unusual and interesting examples of that history really helps to break up the important, but someone dry points about the importance of certain protocols being adopted, abstract points about the shortcomings of the dotcom era, ways of imaging the internet, u.s.w. And hopefully the students get a bit of a sense as well that the internet wasn't always google, facebook and youtube.

The last time, someone (sorry can't remember who) helpfully posted some links to geocities archives.

This time, JHarris and others who have contributed other links in the comments have once again come up with the goods.

You guys rock.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 4:25 AM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Talk about how Facebook et al. have taken all the eyeballs put a song lyric in my head: "There's two eyes for every one of us, but somebody got there first and took them all."
posted by limeonaire at 8:06 AM on December 4, 2011


I still miss writing submissions for the World Wide Web Fights, and Justin's Links to the Underground.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:50 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


wenestvedt, I remember WWWF too, I used to go there all the time. Even bought a copy of the Grudge Match book, which is like an archive of the best bits of the site in print form. I have no proof, but I wouldn't doubt it if it was MTV ripping the site off with Celebrity Death Match that broke its spirit.
posted by JHarris at 3:01 PM on December 16, 2011


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