1. Nicoll, Leslie H. PhD, MBA, RN, Editor-in-Chief

Article Content

As Joan clicked on her e-mail icon, her computer loudly beeped. "What is wrong now?" she said aloud. The screen flashed:


You have 320 e-mail messages and are low in computer resources! Please delete messages!


Sighing, Joan thought, "I know 8 people in the whole world who send me e-mail. How can I have this many messages?"


Clicking on her e-mail box, the computer sang-You've got mail!


Joan looked at the list of messages-


"Lose that Holiday Fat!"


"Ohhh Baby, I chatted with you last night.."


"Bad Credit? Buy a Car without any Money!"



-and set the delete key to not send the message to trash bin but to the shredder program. "No use of having to empty the trash, when I can just send these away," Joan thought to herself.


This list seemed to go on forever. Angrily, she tapped the delete button more quickly. Getting in the rhythm her fingers tapped her favorite song as the messages flew by. One hundred messages gone and 220 to go. Her eye caught various message headers as her finger hit the delete key.


"Cat furballs? No problem with cat scrubber!"


"ReFI your Mortgage with our Quick Rich scheme"


"Flight plans changed, cell phone dead"


Joan read the header but before she could stop her finger, the message was gone.


"Oh no! That was from John and it was probably important!"


She scanned the remaining list to see if John had left any further messages. There were none. As she saw her reflection in the screen, she had "the look." Frustrated, she said aloud, "I hate SPAM. Now what do I do?"


Suddenly a flash...


CIN Nurse appeared holding a copy of the latest CIN Plus. Opening its pages, CIN Plus glowed in CIN Nurse's hand. "Joan, we can fix this so this does not happen again," CIN Nurse said calmly. "Just turn the page."


Welcome to a special edition of CIN Plus with a focus on SPAM-yes, SPAM, the e-mail we love to hate. Once an annoying distraction, SPAM is now a gigantic problem. SPAM attacks grew from nearly 2 million in November 2001 to about 5.5 million in that same period a year later. According to Ferris Research, SPAM is costing US businesses close to $9 billion dollars annually. Users spend 4.4 seconds on average to delete a SPAM e-mail, resulting in $4 billion in lost productivity each year. Businesses have invested another $3.7 billion in servers and bandwith to cope with the Internet traffic. On top of that, people don't like SPAM. A poll by Harris Interactive found that 80% of Internet users are "very annoyed" by SPAM, compared with 49% in 2000.


Solving the SPAM problem has so far defied an easy solution. While some advocate software solutions, others believe legislation is the answer. Experts at The SPAM Conference, held recently at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, discussed the use of statistical analysis as an emergent technology. They theorized that programmers can use archives of junk mail to search for patterns and properties, then use the results to test incoming mail. Will this approach work? Time will tell.


In the meantime, while we wait for "the magic bullet," we have to make do with what is available. This issue of CIN Plus was conceived to provide be a primer on SPAM for CIN readers. While much has been written on SPAM in general, little attention has been given to the problem in the nursing literature. This special edition has been developed to fill that gap. "CIN Nurse" is a collaborative of six authors, who will provide you with an overview of the problem (Co, p. 159) and suggest ways to proactively deal with the SPAM flooding your e-mail box (Bailey, p. 161). Johnson discusses halting SPAM at the gateway (p. 161), while I tackled legislative strategies they are currently being discussed (p. 162). Smith tells a tale of woe as he describes how he tested to software "solutions" for SPAM (p. 160), while LaCoursiere tells us what it is like to be on the other side of the fence: she was accused of being a spammer in the course of recruiting participants for her dissertation research (p. 163)!


The information contained in these pages is current, timely and pertinent. It is my sincere hope that you find it useful. Let me know what you think-this is my first experiment with a "Special Report" and I am interested in your feedback. Contact me at the Editorial Office listed on the masthead; e-mail, phone, or snail mail is fine. Just don't send me any SPAM!