Devil’s Advocate: The Email Postage Issue

Get the WebProNews Newsletter:

[ Business]

Plans by AOL and Yahoo to embrace and implement Goodmail’s “Certified Email” solution, even with allowances for non-profit groups, has drawn criticism from a broad swath of the Internet-using public; we’re going to discuss why this is a good first start if only it extended farther to metering for all email.

That’s right, email postage or metering is a good idea, today, for a couple of reasons. You can read on for more, or go ahead and flame away immediately without going any farther.

Still here? Excellent.

Way back in the days when the World Wide Web had started progressing from baby steps to more confident movement, the inventor of Ethernet, Bob Metcalfe, suggested the need for a metered email approach not for the future, but right then in 1997.

Several things were missing or lacking in 1997 that we have today – RSS feeds, instant messaging, wikis, and blogs. Creating a website, or at minimum a single page, usually required a cursory understanding of HTML.

Email communication grew in usage and importance, and spam promptly followed when bulk mailers realized no laws restrained their inbox-filling methods. Thus, Metcalfe said the Internet’s economics needed a fix:

“My position is that the current economics of the Internet are broken and they need to be fixed, as opposed to everyone else getting it.’ Now here’s that very problem – junk mail. The answer is fix the economics so it is not as economic to send to 8 million as it is to send to 1 million.”

Again, this is 1997. Almost a decade later, laws have been enacted to fight spam, technology has been improved to filter those messages. Yet I routinely delete hundreds of spam messages a day, more so than I did in years past, mostly because the spammers have moved out of the US.

Making everyone pay for email, yes, everyone, does two things. It removes the essentially cost-free efficiency of sending out billions of junk messages every day. And it encourages companies that do email marketing to be very rigorous in keeping their email databases free of invalid addresses and using opt-in subscription methods.

Someone much smarter than I am will have to determine what kind of impact freeing up the Internet from the burden of billions of spams a day would have on network performance. Assuming that person hasn’t already flamed me for playing devil’s advocate for metering email, of course.

Clever people who want to work around email metering have options available to them today. RSS feeds come to mind immediately. Find a business, a cause, a blogger that you like, just hit the RSS button to add it to your feed reader.

That’s fine for the communications that come from a website. For personal communication, a family can set up a wiki or a blog with access limited to just those family members. PBWiki.com offers one example of how this can be done. Text editing in a blog or wiki is no more difficult that working with rich-text email.

ISPs generally offer free website hosting to their customers. Those same ISPs can make a wiki or blog product part of the service being paid for by the customer.

Instant messaging, whether by text or voice, has already exceeded email for younger Internet users. They will grow into an online audience that has already pushed email aside, so they won’t miss it greatly.

Then, email would regain its value. Messages appearing in one’s inbox would more likely be of importance rather than pharmaceutical come-ons or jokes that have been forwarded hundreds of times. Metering email imposes responsibility on those who generate it.

Haha, responsibility and the Internet community. I make myself laugh sometimes.

Naturally, issues of implementation arise. It’s one thing to institute a national email postage or metering policy; how do you do it on a global scale?
Who decides how much to charge?
What kind of discounts can be offered to non-profit charitable groups?
Wouldn’t deep-pocketed companies, the Wal-Marts of the world, dominate inboxes through economics?

No idea, really. But email gets closer to useless with every hundred spams I delete. There has to be a solution.

Tag: |

Add to | DiggThis | Yahoo! My Web

Drag this to your Bookmarks.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Devil’s Advocate: The Email Postage Issue
Top Rated White Papers and Resources
  • http://seomonsters.googlepages.com/downloadfreeringtones Hector

    I read the whole article and found some great points mentioned over there. Good Job.

  • Join for Access to Our Exclusive Web Tools
  • Sidebar Top
  • Sidebar Middle
  • Sign Up For The Free Newsletter
  • Sidebar Bottom