Stopping spam with poetry


These days, many mobile phones come equipped with Bluetooth — a technology for sending data up to 30 feet to another device. It’s kind of like wifi, except more flexible, albeit with a shorter range. But the point is, a lot of phones can use Bluetooth to send contact information from one to another, much the way you used to “beam” information from one Palm Pilot to another. Except with Bluetooth, you don’t need to be pointing your device at the recipient. Indeed, you could be thirty feet away in a crowded room.

This has given rise to a new trend: “bluejacking”. Bluejacking is when you use your phone to locate another phone nearby that has Bluetooth — and then send that person some contact info, and possibly a cryptic little message. Often you’re doing it to a total stranger, anonymously. As the bluejacking web site puts it:

On their phone, a message will popup saying “‘Hello, you’ve been bluejacked’ has just been received by Bluetooth” or something along those lines. For most ‘victims’ they will have no idea as to how the message appeared on their phone. So, personalised messages like ‘I like your pink top’ and the startled expressions that result is where the fun really starts.

Obviously, bluejacking is kinda creepy — for the victim, it’s rather like being stalked, or a digital-age version of the classic horror movie When A Stranger Calls. (“The call’s coming from inside the house!!!”) But apparently the victims often find it kind of funny. On the Bluejacking site, there are a couple of stories written by bluejackers, including that kid in the picture above: In the photo, he’s bluejacking the girl in the pink-and-white top behind him. The full story is here, and for balance’s sake, they also include a rather hilarious story told from the perspective of a bluejacking victim.

I predict Bluejacking will appear in a spy movie — or horror movie — within the next twelve months.

The picture above is copyright the original bluejacking site, BTW!

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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