Digital Journal — First there was spam flooding our inboxes. But now a new type of email message is gaining attention because of its popularity: bacn, or emails that aren’t spam but aren’t personal messages, either.The Toronto Star reported on this new term to define emails that range from a website’s newsletter to a note from your service provider to Facebook invites to events you have no interest in attending.
According to the New York Times, blogger Andy Quayle penned a succinct definition of this less intrusive spam: “Notifications you want. But not right now.” There is even a website dedicated to managing this new form of email clutter.
How did bacn come to be? While the actual emails have been around for as long as email has existed, the term “bacn” was coined at Podcamp Pittsburgh last weekend. As the Star explained, four tech enthusiasts were chatting about back bacon (a.k.a. Canadian bacon) and how some people Twitter so much they have to turn off notifications for them.
But then one of the bloggers, Tommy Vallier, mentioned that back bacon is also called peameal bacon, which sounds like “email bacon.” Suddenly, the informal discussion had created a formal name for the concept of notification you don’t want right now. As the inventors of the term explained:
It's not spam – you signed up for it, and you actually do want that information, but yet it still feels like it’s wasting your time.
We all know what kind of emails can be considered worthy of the bacn label: pending friend requests on MySpace, email updates from acquaintances of acquaintances, sales at stores you visited once, and so on. These messages may be of interest, but you don’t have the time to deal with them at the moment. They might be discarded or flagged to read later.
Considering the meat name, bacn may be categorized in the broader umbrella of spam. But that’s too simple of a labelling. We receive bacn all the time, and those emails aren’t all aggravating. In fact, some of us find bacn tasty, perhaps anticipating its arrival on slow email days. It’s just that we want the crispy lean bacn (important emails) as opposed to the greasy fatty bacon (pointless emails). There’s no need to have beef over spam and bacn, right?