Friday, February 17, 2006

Data-mining our blogs: It's like tuna sleepwalking through quicksand!

"Those damn bloggers...." Poor Karl Rove. If it wasn't for bloggers, he wouldn't have to be hiding out in the back room of the White House right now. "They almost stopped the Alito nomination. If it wasn't for them, no one would have noticed the WMD lies. And why do they keep bringing up Diebold?"

The Bush bureaucracy hates bloggers. Something has to be done.

Ha. Something is already being done. Just ask AOL. It's called "data-mining". Just ask my friend Joe Thompson.

"Every time I use certain words in my e-mails to friends, AOL bounces them back." I bet he's a victim of data-mining.

Data-mining? What is that?

Data-mining is like when those gigantic fishing fleets send down their nets to troll the ocean for tuna -- and end up catching dolphins too. Then, in order to produce dolphin-free tuna, they check their nets, keep the tuna and throw the dolphins back. Data-mining programs work the same way. They troll the internet ocean constantly -- but they don't read every word in our e-mails. They throw our "dolphin" words back. They are just scanning for certain "un-American" words. The words "garden club" and "stock market options" for instance would be considered "dolphin" words. They get thrown back.

"Impeach" is a tuna word. If you have "lies" and "Bush" and "Abramoff" in the same e-mail, you got a "tuna" e-mail and it goes into the can.

I've been a rabid blogger for years -- ever since the day that the federal Supreme Court violated Florida's states rights and stole the 2000 election for Bush. (If you use "stolen" and "election" in the same sentence they become tuna words, by the way.)

What happens to e-mails that contain "tuna" words? AOL bounces them -- and Yahoo sends them off to the Bulk Mail graveyard where they are miraculously converted from "tuna" to "spam".

I don't know the exact figure but I estimate that only about 50% of the political e-mails I send out actually manage to escape all the "tuna" nets in their way.

In the last six years, the mere act of sending my blog out to people has gotten harder and harder. It's beginning to feel like sleepwalking through quicksand. You think what you are walking on is solid ground. But it's not. You think that your e-mails are being sent and received. But they're not. Is the data-mining quicksand swallowing up all my tuna? I'd like to know.

While I can't really prove that our e-mails are being data-mined without a court order to strip-search the White House, I still think there is something fishy going on with our internet. You know when you are asleep and you sorta kinda maybe hear a noise and you are asleep so it doesn't really register? Well, I think that the noise I'm hearing in my sleep is all my "tuna" words going off to the "spam" factory to be canned.

We bloggers need to start waking up. Why? Because the next words that Karl Rove will be data-mining for will be "freedom" and "democracy" and "Thou shalt not kill".

PS: Blogging these days really IS like sleepwalking through quicksand, especially when you try to send a new article out. "Wow! This new article is HOT," you think to yourself. "People are just gonna LOVE my new broadside. Freedom and truth! And George Bush is just gonna hate it. But Thomas Paine will be proud." And then you try to send your new blog article out.

"The first thing I do when I write a new essay is to send a draft to myself to see what it looks like," I told my friend Joe. "And lately that has become a VERY interesting process. First of all, my draft disappears into cyberspace for approximately a half-hour while it's apparently being thoroughly data-mined somewhere. Then the draft suddenly pops up in my Bulk Mail box." How the freak can you send Bulk Mail to yourself?

I then hit the Yahoo button that says, "This is not SPAM". Yeah right. Like Yahoo is going to change my setting and no longer send my essays to Bulk Mail the next time I e-mail myself? Dream on. My stuff ALWAYS goes into Bulk Mail. Why? Because I always use "tuna" words. (However, I do promise to stop using "tuna" words -- just as soon as secretive sleazy self-aggrandizing special-interest groups stop hijacking our democracy and GWB is in jail.)

Anyway, somehow I finally manage to fish my latest blog out of the Bulk Mail swamp, polish it up and try to send it off. But that's not going to happen either. Why? Because my internet service provider now sends me something called a "String Character Verification" message, which basically says, "I'm sorry but we data-mined your out-going e-mail and we think that your blog article is SPAM. Please verify the following characters: J8xA4."

Okay. I can do that. I carefully type in "J8xA4".

"I'm sorry," says the next message. "You are an idiot. You cannot even type five characters correctly. Your message has not been sent and it has not been saved." This happens almost every time I send out a tuna-fish blog.

If I send Aunt Suzie a message that reads, "How's your new puppy," I never have this problem.

Sending out a blog article is like herding a school of tuna through a swamp. I spend over half my blogging time just sleepwalking and herding tuna.

I bet that Karl Rove is very pleased that he can waste so much of my time -- but I think that he'd be even more pleased if I gave up blogging altogether and just watched Fox News.