In the 19th century, the nascent advertising industry took notice of the fact that postmasters could send each other letters for free, and bribed them to forward packets of mail to one another to pass on to townspeople ("To Superintendent Sunday School OR ANY ONE INTERESTED IN MUSIC").
The nature of these paleospams is familiar to anyone who looks at spam today: multi-level marketing, home improvement, crapgadgets, the government owes you money and I know how to get it, cheap printing, we pay cash for scrap, etc etc. There's even an overseas con from "Rev HGC Hallock, PhD; 480 Chapoo Rd, Shanghai, China."
Like modern spam, the industry thrived by exploiting a zero-rated piece of public infrastructure.
The mid- to late-nineteenth century saw the beginnings of advertising agencies (most, at first, simply placing newspaper ads for their clients), of compiled mailing lists and pre-printed labels . . . and of junk mail fishing for fresh, new contacts. For a variety of reasons, the first junk mail (targeted mail, generic mail . . . take your pick) went to and through local postmasters. Small town postmasters knew anybody and everybody in town, knew their businesses, knew their interests, knew their foibles. Much such mail was addressed directly to the postmaster, asking him to pass it along to someone in town likely to be interested in the product. Other mail, addressed to "The Leading (Teacher / Grocer / Doctor / you name it)" in town also bore a side note to the postmaster asking him to re-direct it to somebody else likely to be interested, if appropriate.
Junk mail is nothing new [Dick Sheaff/Ephemera Society]
(via Super Punch)
Gabriella Corley is a 9 year old with Type I diabetes who’s allergic to the insulin covered by her low-income parents’ healthcare; to live, she must take Sanofi’s proprietary Apidra brand insulin, which has increased in price by 1,123% since 1996, and which is only covered to 25% by her insurer’s Pharmacy Benefit Manager, CVS.
Since the earliest days of ecommerce, analysts have predicted that retailers would use their estimations of their customers’ willingness to pay to invisibly, instantaneously reprice their goods, offering different prices to each customer.
The Intercept publishes a previously-unseen set of Snowden docs detailing more than $500,000,000 worth of secret payments by the Japanese government to the NSA, in exchange for access to the NSA’s specialized surveillance capabilities, in likely contravention of Japanese privacy law (the secrecy of the program means that the legality was never debated, so no […]
Bamboo has lots of uses beyond just being panda food. Things like bikes, roads, scaffolding, and musical instruments are made from the fast-growing grass. But unless you are participating in a tropical-themed LARP, you probably wouldn’t want a shirt made from bamboo stalks. So why do bamboo bed sheets make any sense? Because yarn extracted from […]
If you want to work in tech, but don’t have any desire to code web apps to help businesses sell things to other business, you might want to consider a career in cybersecurity. Judging from the apparent complete infiltration of Russian hackers in American cyberspace, it seems fair to speculate that there’s a major shortage of […]
All moms are different. But all moms like getting flowers on Mother’s Day, and that’s a fact (not, however a fact we can document in any fashion.) Instead of getting chewed out for forgetting to call her on the second Sunday of May, you can take care of it ahead of time with Teleflora’s flower […]