We're making this up as we go along, this internet thing. We stumble from one massive data breach to another software patch and back, and try to keep up with all the clever people--all of whom seem to be trying to send us spam. According to ars technica, it's only going to get worse when low cost computer hardware hits the third world. A lot worse.
"Earlier this year," writes Charles Arthur, "I spoke with someone who does blog spamming for a living - a very comfortable living, he claimed. But he said that the one thing that did give him pause was the possibility that rival blog spammers might start paying people in developing countries to fill in captchas: they could always use a bit of western cash, would have the spare time and, increasingly, cheap internet connections to be able to do such tedious (but paid) work." With the launch of the $100 laptop targeted at developing markets, Arthur wonders whether we're set for an explosion of spam and malfeasance that will make today's Internet environment sound like a terrestrial paradise.
It's easy to see why people would be willing to do the work. Take a country like Nigeria, best known on the Internet for originating the e-mail scam in which a wealthy (and usually dying) person offers huge amounts of money to a total stranger if that person will help smuggle the fortune out of the country. Wages in Nigeria are low and jobs are hard to come by; when you couple that with one of the worst corruption ratings on earth (PDF from Transparency International), it's not hard to believe that those with access to the Internet might be willing to solve CAPTCHAs and spam blogs for a living.