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Craigslist Beamed to Extraterrestrials

By Susan B. Shor
Mar 1, 2005 1:17 PM PT

Craigslist announced today that it would expand the odds of finding true love, a vintage couch or a long lost pal by beaming its ads into outer space.

Craigslist Beamed to Extraterrestrials

"Humans in general seem to like the chance of a long shot, hence the popularity of the missed connections board," craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster said. "We're at least raising the odds."

The "missed connections" section of the classified ad and online community purveyor is pretty much what it sounds like. People can post ads looking for someone they saw, for instance, across a busy street, but didn't approach, in the hopes that the person will recognize the ad poster and respond.

One Click to Outer Space

On Sunday, Buckmaster won the rights to send the first private communication to be transmitted into deep space in -- where else? -- an eBay auction. The seller was Deep Space Communications Network, a production company based in Florida that will use its satellite broadcasting gear to transmit the postings at least one light year into space.

After winning the auction, craigslist promptly extended the offer to its users. All users have to do is check a box in their postings in order to be included in the beaming.

Craigslist started in San Francisco exactly 10 years ago and has spread to 99 cities in 19 countries, but this is its first foray into space.

"Beaming ads into deep space really caught my imagination," Buckmaster, who paid US$1,225 for the rights, told TechNewsWorld. He was bidding on the rights to send one 75-word message and perhaps a video clip trillions of miles beyond the Solar System. He said the companies would negotiate a higher price for all the additional content they plan to send.

You Never Know

"We figure it's worth it," said Buckmaster, who thinks the ads may be read by someone or something someday. Deep Space Communications says there's "more than a zero [percent] chance" that that's true.

The postings will begin their journey May 15, right after the launch of the space shuttle Discovery. Along with the postings, craigslist will send a video message from founder Craig Newmark and a clip from the documentary "24 Hours on craigslist." According to a press release, the message is "for the benefit and edification of potential future craigslist community members in the great beyond."

"After some spot checks, it looks as though we've gotten on the order of 10,000 classified ads designated for interstellar transmission in the first 24 hours after the check box was added. Pretty exciting!" Buckmaster said.

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