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A time to spam

When marketing messages are OK

There is no greater insult in the Metaverse than to call someone a spammer. SPAM -- even the word sounds ugly: "SSSS-PAM." It conjures up visions of pink fleshy things coated in gelatin. Yet, spam afflicts us all in every useful communication channel.When e-mail was the province of academics and computer geeks who knew Unix, e-mail spam was an unknown phenomenon. Within minutes of e-mail becoming a widespread communication tool, however, spammers entered the picture.Same with Twitter, same with Facebook, same with whatever comes next. I suspect that the third smoke signal message ever sent was probably something about mail-order Viagra.There is, however, a time for spam. Yes, that's right. Let me say that one more time: There is a time for spam. Jason Steele, vice president of Interactive Marketing at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, wrote a fascinating blog post about e-mail marketing. Steele described an experience shopping for a new TV at Amazon.com, an...

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