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Subject: Marketing Viruses (was Re: UKNM: Latency)
From: Ben Thompson
Date: Fri, 20 Mar 1998 10:39:13 GMT

>So I think that e-mail 'virus' ideas could be misinterpreted, but I
>would love to know if anyone can remember any details from this sketchy
>episode of about three years back.....


Actually I remember the full glory details and when I get time I'll look for
the reference at Wired.com.

Keeping the problem simple, the question should be when is a "marketing"
virus Spam, and when is it useful? Clearly at its origin any virus is merely
a Spam that people trust to forward onto their friends (and enemies of

I suppose it all depends on targeting, i.e. you forward the message onto
people who you think would be interested in it. Where the message is
forwarded and acknowledged by the sender, the outcome is different from the
non-acknowledged Spam.

If this is the case I can think of three useful examples of viruses on the
Net. Recommend-it.com provide surfers with the ability to recommend member
sites to their friends and colleagues. Erdos.net (my own system, so there is
a clear bias here, but the design has improved (honest)) does the same by
notifying people when a friend or colleague enters their name into the
system (provided they are not already listed in it).

The final example is ICQ. True this is not a virus in the original sense (it
does however include a send to friend option) but it does show the power of
word of mouth and I do feel lonely when I'm online without it.



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