It all ends in Spam

22.10.2011 11:57

Back in September, when I was in Nürnberg, I also visited the Verkehrsmuseum. As expected, it houses a detailed history of German railways, from big steam engines of the industrial era to the latest ICE. Surprisingly though, the exhibit continues with a nice collection about post offices and telecommunications.

In the end you finally climb to the top floor and come to a dead end in this hall, lined with the time line of computers and history of the Internet. Past the iPad, at the Spam can, you have to turn around 180 degrees and walk to the exit.

Computer display at Verkehrsmuseum, Nürnberg

I'm not sure if the symbolism here was intentional. In a day you see how the engineering focus turned from efficiently moving physical things to pushing information around. In the end you stand in front of the ubiquitous can of Spam and think, did we really come all this way just to base everything on advertisements?

Posted by Tomaž | Categories: Life


Although Spam I suppose is technically advertising, but to lump it in with advertising per se, I think is wrong.

All advertising is unwanted, but Spam is unsolicited - sent to a personal space rather than a general one where it can be ignored without actually having to do anything. Spam you have to reject and that's were the intrusion comes in. General advertising such as posters, press ads and TV can require a turn of the head, but spam needs a click and a delete.

Not much more really, but it is the intrusion that is most annoying.

The tin of SPAM is a good point made

There are more and less intrusive forms of advertising, but I do not see a clear line between spam and not-spam. For instance, flashy bill boards on the side of the street require conscious effort to ignore, just as blinking banners on web sites do. That might be even costlier in terms of my time and attention as clicking a spam mail away.

Just to be clear, I don't see all advertising as pure evil. It's hard to imagine a world where it wouldn't exist. What does bother me is that giving away your focus and attention to advertisers (plus your personal data, but that's another story) seems to be the default business model on the web today.

Posted by Tomaž

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