Just before Christmas, a strange image arrived in my email in-box. It was attached to a message entitled “Extreme shrinkage was evident, due to the large amount of fat rendered” – a statement, I think you’ll agree, guaranteed to arouse anyone’s curiosity.
The image consisted of an assortment of geometric shapes on a burgundy background – the overall effect being not dissimilar to a “party shirt” I had in 1983. Over the top of this assemblage was a lengthy message urging me to invest in a “hot stock” listed on the market under the somewhat unfortunate acronym ARSS. Apparently I needed to start watching ARSS (insert joke here) as it was about to embark on a spectacular rise. $$$ were promised. And all this highly valuable information was set in a crude machine typeface with the kind of leading and kerning worthy of David Carson on one of his most, err, inspired days.
According to Ironport, a spam filtering firm, unsolicited junk mail now accounts for more than nine out of every ten email messages sent over the internet. The volume of junk has doubled over the last year, chiefly due to what was sitting in my in-box: image spam, one of the most successful and effective design innovations of recent times.