Monday, 21 January 2008

Bringing home the bacn!

I’ve known about spam for years. On many occasions I have ranted about the fact that sometimes 90% of my inbox is spam. I have opted not to use the executive-must-have toys such as a Blackberry because I know the "important" e-mail that has just arrived will be offering me – well you know the sort of thing these kinds of e-mail offer.

What I didn’t realise, until a recent interesting conversation down the pub last week, is that someone has divided e-mail into two categories – spam (the stuff you never want) and "ham" (the stuff you do want). That all seemed to make sense. It’s useful if everything has a name. Although I must admit I’ve never heard anyone come into the office and say, "nearly half my e-mail is ham today".

What got me checking the date to see whether April Fools’ Day had come early was when the conversation turned to a third type of e-mail called "bacn". I looked it up on Wikipedia later – and there it is fully defined etc. So definitely not a hoax. I hadn’t been drinking too much.

Now readers of this blog will fall into two groups, those who already know about bacn and those who, like me, had never heard of it. So, for those of us in group 2, bacn refers to those e-mails that you want, but you don’t really want at this minute. For example, you subscribed to the Trainspotting newsletter one afternoon when you weren’t to busy at work and now, when a new edition arrives, and you’re completely inundated with work, you leave it in your inbox until later – a later that may never arrive before the next newsletter turns up. So bacn is basically solicited e-mail that goes unread.

I’m not sure how you’d classify the e-mail from Facebook telling you a "friend" has just written on your wall. Wouldn’t it be easier just to put the message in the e-mail and save me logging in? But then perhaps I’d just e-mail my friend and miss out the whole Facebook experience.

Anyway, back to bacn. The term bacn, apparently, was originally coined at PodCamp Pittsburgh 2. Since then, according to Wikipedia, it has become popular amongst the blogging community – but not so popular that I was aware of it until last week. Perhaps I should get out more – or perhaps I get out too much and I should be at home reading everyone else’s blog!

So if the conversation turns to e-mail, you can confidently refer to unwanted e-mail as spam, personal and wanted e-mail as ham, and whatever’s left as bacn. You’ll either sound like and expert or an idiot!! Let me know which.

Going back to Wikipedia, I’ve always been a big fan. I use it as a TV episode guide, to research obscure topics that crop up in conversation, and everything else. I was surprised that Google was setting up a new equivalent called Knol. I’m sure competition is a good thing, but it’ll mean checking two sources rather than one. A bit like a man with two watches never quite knowing what’s the right time. So, nil point to Google for that idea.

And finally... With spam, ham, and bacn, what kind of e-mail would be the equivalent of a pork scratching? I’d like to be the first blogger to use the term "pork scratching" to refer to an unread RSS feed you have set up!

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