Stonemind WEB The 416

The 416

Last night during one of my final email checks of the day, I got an email message from a recruiter. I get these all the time anymore, almost always sent to the email address associated with this blog. I personally find this relatively new recruiting behavior interesting, but I think I have only ever responded once, when it actually seemed like the person knew what I was about and had sent an email tailored to me personally.

What made this particular email interesting was that the recruiter didn’t bother to hide any of the addresses he had sent this email to, and I was able to see just how many people get targeted in these types of emails. In this case, it was 416 (or so I’m told–someone counted).

I went to sleep shortly thereafter, and slept in, taking Friday off. When I woke up and finally got around to my first email check of the day, I was puzzled to see a thread in Gmail that was 61 messages long. Some poor schlub had hit reply-to-all on that recruiter’s email, and drama followed. People replied-to-all complaining at first, but then the emails quickly turned to seeing the humor in the situation. Then people started to introduce each other…

I joined the party rather late it seems. By the time I saw all this–less than 12 hours later mind you–the group had chosen a name, “Pradipta’s Rolodex”, after the recruiter and his computer proficiency. A logo had been created, and a Google group had started, which at that time already had 131 messages.

A fuller history of the beginning of this monumental event can be found here.

I suddenly felt honored to be included in such a group, and not wanting to miss the opportunity to possibly be part of an Internet meme-in-the-making (the “reverse flash mob”), I joined the Google group and dutifully introduced myself, and now I feel like I’ve achieved some degree of quasi-celebrity I’ve always wanted.

The Google group is quite active, now at 284 messages just a few hours later, and people are also still replying-to-all on the original email thread. Various scripts have been published for manipulating the email addresses of the group, and a new Rails plugin “acts_as_pradipta” is currently being discussed that could revolutionize spamming from Rails.

I personally like the name “the 416″ for the group. It makes it sound like we are all the unlikely survivors of a plane crash, which I imagine strands us all on a beautiful tropical island with plenty of food and all the comforts of home, but none of the distractions of things like the Internet. We fill our days flirting with each other because we’re all so damn good looking, until we start being terrorized by a group of natives led by the mysterious “Max Archie”. For me, it also conjures up the image of heroically, if tragically, fighting the Persian army. Either way, I’m better looking, in better shape and doing more interesting things.

For me, the moral of this story is clear: never underestimate what can be accomplished by a bunch of software developers looking for an excuse to avoid work on a Friday.

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