Thursday, July 22, 2010

The cultural phenomenon that is CAPTCHA

Today’s post is ridiculously pointless and irrelevant – consider yourself warned.

Thanks to this blog, a Facebook page, an RSS feed, e-mail blasts and other methods of sharing information online, I’ve become supremely aware of CAPTCHA – the coding that dissuades spammers from… well, spamming I guess.

You know these things, even if you didn’t know what they were called: when you go to post a link on Facebook and you have to type two blurry words first… that’s CAPTCHA.

Background complete. Begin rant.

Not to get all Seinfeld on you, but what’s up with these CAPTCHA things, and who’s the person who writes them? I want that job. Seriously, the other day I had a series of these random terms that ran the gamut of odd: “unusual armpits,” “Wilson intends,” “boompow doofus” and “not chunk.” Apparently the CAPTCHA programmers over at MIT and Carnegie Mellon have unhealthy obsessions with anatomy, pop culture, long-retired eighties-era insults and the Goonies.

And why do you have to be an ink blot specialist to even read half of them? The bulk of these things look like a faxed copy of a fax that was faxed to the fax machine in my office that still has a rotary dial on it. Can we not come up with some type of universal standard for delineating between “0” and “O” or “8” and “B” or “1” and “I”? And for God’s sake, am I supposed to capitalize the first freakin’ letter or not?

To what standard do we hold the writers of CAPTCHA phrases? Does culture influence the CAPTCHA or does the CAPTCHA influence society? Hmmmmmm… That’s a question for all my old Mass Comm professors I guess…. Not that they’re reading this anyways. :-)

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the writer of one of those things accidentally spelled one of them wrong? A mistake like that could result in thousands of Facebook links not being uploaded, millions of concert tickets not purchased and, like, three people not sending this blog post to a friend. Hehe. (Did you notice the new share feature on here? See below, friends.)

Love you all – See you at 4 p.m. for some actually pertinent info and links.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that CAPTCHA is annoying (I can't read most of them), but I once interviewed the guy who invented the technology. He was actually a pretty cool, down-to-earth guy.