Literary spam.

I love the high, faux-literary tone of this spam message I received today. Its content is essentially the same as many Nigerian wire fraud scams … but the language is awfully high-flown. Where do they come up with this stuff?

From: Lady Catherine Levett,
4 Old Church Street, Chelsea, SW3, England.

Here writes Lady Catherine Levett , suffering from cancerous ailment.
Iam married to Engineer Neil Levett an Englishman who is dead.
My husband was into private practice all his life before his death. Our life
together as man and wife lasted for three decades without child. My
husband died after a protracted illness.

My husband and I made a vow to uplift the down-trodden and the
less-privileged individuals as he had passion for persons who can not
help themselves due to physical disability or financial predicament. I can
adduce this to the fact that he needed a Child from this relationship,
which never came. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of 950,000. GBP
(Nine Hundred and Fifty thousand Great Britain Pounds Sterling) which were derived
from his vast estates and investment in capital market with his bank in Malaysia.
Presently, this money is still with the Bank. Recently, my
Doctor told me that I have limited days to live due to the cancerous
problems I am suffering from.

Though what bothers me most is the stroke that I have in addition to
the cancer. With this hard reality that has befallen my
family, and me I have decided to donate this fund to you and want you
to use this gift which comes from my husbands effort to fund the
upkeep of widows, widowers, orphans, destitute, the down-trodden, physically
challenged children, barren-women and persons who prove to be
genuinely handicapped financially.

As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of my
lawyer and the bank in Malaysia. I will also issue you a Letter of Authority
that will empower you as the original beneficiary of this fund. My
happiness is that I lived a life worthy of emulation. Please always be
prayerful all through your life. Please assure me that you will act
just as I have stated herein. Hope to hear from you soon and God bless you and
members of your family. you can contact me through my private email

Lady Catherine Levett

Literary spam.

Open source journalism.

At Wired, we’ve been experimenting with what we loosely call “open source journalism” in a variety of ways. What we’re learning is that there’s a fairly natural flow from quick blog posts to more fully-cooked news stories, and it works something like this.

A reporter finds out about a breaking news story, and puts a quick blog post up about it. If it’s important enough, we’ll feature that blog post on the home page of right away. In the meantime, the reporter will continue working on the story: Calling sources, checking facts, looking for additional details, and thinking through the implications. As she discovers new information, she’ll post it to the blog, either as followup posts or as updates to the original item.

Eventually, for the bigger stories, we accumulate a series of blog posts with a fair amount of original reporting in them. This can happen over the course of a morning, a day, or even a couple of weeks. At the same time, we start getting comments on the posts, and occasionally those comments have additional information that leads us in new directions. (We do read, and sometimes respond to, all our comments.)

At this point, we can write a full-blown news story, incorporating much of the reporting and even the copy from the blog posts, while adding context, analysis, and a more standard news story structure.

The result is that readers can read any of Wired’s 10 active news blogs to get up-to-the-minute, relatively unfiltered news reporting, almost as fast as we do it. Or you can follow Wired’s home page (or our Top Stories RSS feed) to get a slower, more filtered, more “cooked” news feed.

This process has worked well for us in covering some big stories, such as the Digg user revolt of May 2007, the Virginia Tech shootings in April 2007, the iPhone launch, and coverage of a variety of industry conferences. We also use it almost daily, on a host of smaller stories.

But it’s not fast enough. For some people, even the blogs are too slow. That’s why a number of us in the Wired newsroom are starting to use Twitter, Facebook, and other social software to post about news stories we’re working on, even before we’ve blogged about them.

I’m making my Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages public, and other reporters are, too. I’ve also created a Facebook group for the tech business news beat that I oversee — it’s called The Epicenter, and it’s open to anyone who is interested in news about the tech business.

It’s all very experimental, and I’m not sure yet which media are going to work best for long-term communication and collaboration on the news. But my goal is to make something explicit about my work that has actually been true for my entire career: I’m not just a source of information, I’m also a hub for information, a conduit for facilitating the flow of news and perspective.

I’ll see you online.

UPDATE: Scott Karp has an interesting article on this topic called “Can Blogs Do Journalism?” The answer, of course, is yes, and not surprisingly, blog publishers are discovering that daily news and print journalists make pretty good bloggers.

Open source journalism.