ME and Ophelia

Thursday, February 05, 2004


Email Postage

American blogger Jim O'Connell at Wirefarm weblog in Tokyo blogs about email postage:

Yahoo! and Microsoft are giving serious thought to the idea of e-mail "postage" that costs senders a small fee, company officials said. The admissions come in the wake of Microsoft founder Bill Gates' January comments in Davos, Switzerland suggesting the spam problem will be defeated by a number of different solutions, but "in the long run, the monetary method will be dominant."

The monetary approach, known as "sender pays," has different variations and is currently being used by several anti-spam companies, including IronPort and Vanquish. The latest company getting buzz for advocating such an approach is a Silicon Valley start-up called Goodmail. Under Goodmail's model, bulk e-mail senders pay outright for "postage" that guarantees their e-mail will be delivered to participating ISPs, who are paid for accepting the mail. Understandably, ISPs are interested in exploring this idea, as it helps them defray the soaring costs of handling e-mail.

Jim invites his readers to discuss and comment on what they think. My first reaction on reading his post is: Commercial operators trying to muscle in and duplicate meatspace in cyberspace. Like the postal service controlling charges on each letter, telcos controlling charges on each phone call ... now ISPs want to control charges for each email? Sounds to me like commercial operators wistfully thinking out loud and worming their way into owning and controlling cyberspace.

My feeling is that it's a bad idea from our point of view, but a good idea from a commercial operators point of view. I sure would not buy it. If it came to ISPs gaining such control, I'd go without email and communicate via my blog. Our top man Sir Tim Berners-Lee gave up a fortune so that the World Wide Web could be ours. The web is ours, it belongs to us, we the citizens of the world. Wonder what he makes of it all.

Here's a reminder of my Jan 30 post on The Internet is the ultimate base medium and quote by Doc Searls: "The Internet is the ultimate base medium -- it will either undermine or support all other media. Think of the Internet as a phone system, a postal service, a library, a distribution hub and a yellow pages -- all in one. Only, unlike all those traditional institutions, nobody controls it. Anybody can participate in any of those roles."

Note also my post August 30, 2003 re email I treasure from Vinton G Cerf, Father of the Internet :)

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 2/05/2004
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