One namespace to rule them all

Says who? A spam generation program.

I try not to forward people spam that strikes me as funny because of its strange, autogenerated content ("Look! Andre Breton-surrealist-beatnik-acid-poetry!") because there's so much of it out there that there's nothing special about any of it. (Please, no counter-examples.) When one such message got through my spam filters to appear in my inbox with a subject header of "One namespace to rule them all", though, it certainly pushed a lot of buttons in the mind of a markup/metadata geek. My inner voice was already arguing with someone out there: "What? The whole point of namespaces is to have more than one so that you can distinguish the context of one use of a term from that of another use! Throwing them all together won't scale! That's why the microformats use of the class attribute..." etc.

[spam image exceprt]

Then, under the bitmap picture plugging stock shares of the China Fruits Corporation, I saw a block of text assembled from random phrases out on the world wide internet. In an earlier draft of this, I quoted the whole thing, but I'm sure you see enough of this sort of thing.

Before grammatically correct but semantically nonsensical auto-generated content was so prevalent, I used to be fascinated by it. I even got credit toward a masters degree in computers science for some LISP coding to do some. A few times in my undergraduate years, while taking notes during a lecture, I'd nod off and still manage to write a few more words. Upon realizing what I did, I always excitedly checked to see what I had written, knowing that this was the kind of thing that Breton actively sought to write, but I had never written anything interesting. Maybe it would have looked better in French. (Hell, even the word "metadata" looks better in French, although Google asks: "Did you mean methadone?" More than one French poet would approve.)

The spammers can use whatever algorithms they like to put text under their bitmap message about the money they want from you without triggering your spam detector, but the subject header of their message is more important. It must grab your attention so that you open the message to see what's inside, as this one did for me. Was this subject header as random as the text in the message? Were the odds similar that my mother could have gotten spam with a subject about one namespace ruling them all? The one non-spam use of the phrase that I can find is a weblog posting about VBScript, which is pretty far away from the topics I care about. The grand tone of how this namespace would "rule them all" was certainly part of the button-pushing effect; did it push any buttons for you when I used it?


It certainly grabbed me.

I've been peddling this to a few places lately:

Data and procedures and the values they amass,
Higher-order functions to combine and mix and match,
Objects with their local state, the messages they pass,
A property, a package, the control point for a catch --
In the Lambda Order they are all first-class.

One Thing to name them all, One Thing to define them,
One Thing to place them in environments and bind them,
In the Lambda Order they are all first-class.

(the abstract to the Revised Revised Report on Scheme)

Me too, but the From: field helped (and I was expecting an 80's guitarist yarn).