I was just glancing through my feeds and see an interesting post by Robert Scoble having to do with noise reduction. By that he means the increasing “noise” by the new social services like Twitter, FriendFeed and the like. Good stuff in his post and worth […]

I was just glancing through my feeds and see an interesting post by Robert Scoble having to do with noise reduction. By that he means the increasing “noise” by the new social services like Twitter, FriendFeed and the like. Good stuff in his post and worth the read… plus it got me thinking. And I mean thinking radically. The biggest “noise-box” in my environment isn’t the hottest, new social networking-Web 2.0-AJAXy-AIR tool. It’s my inbox. And I suspect it is for most of you too. So here’s the radical thought (that will never see the light of day, which is probably a good thing):What if you were charged for sending an e-mail to someone? As in: micropayments to the recipient, who sets a rate to receive your note? Just like a sliding-CPM model in the web advertising world, as a recipient, you would place a value on your time or on the “impression” of that note.Got plenty of time to have e-mail conversations? Set your CPE or Cost-Per-Email at a lowly $0.01. Backed up with e-mails or need to spend time on a project that commands more of your attention? Raise your CPE to $2.00 a pop. Off for the weekend to spend time with the family? Hey, it’s going to cost you $10 to get my attention on your note during my off-time.Yup, it’s a crazy idea and certainly wouldn’t work as stated in a corporate environment. But something in Robert’s post resonated in me because the new noise-makers are “unlimited and free”. I think way, way back when folks had to pay for each phone call they made at their house. Let me tell you… there was a lot less noise back then. Then the trend became “unlimited calling”, which I fully take advantage of. It also means “unlimited noise” when you think about it. OK… no more thinking for me today. ;)

  1. At last, I’d have a good reason for why I send EVERYTHING via instant messenger. :)

  2. I proposed the same idea in a letter printed in the August 1998 issue of PC Magazine. I still think it is a good idea. Even a price of one cent would make almost all spam uneconomical.

    Such a proposal could be combined with a whitelist so that people who send out regular newsletters could still do so without paying $10 each time they sent to their 1000 willing recipients.

    If such a plan existed there could be a rapid switch to individuals blocking all email that doesn’t pay to play.

    My prediction is that this will happen all of a sudden, both for the positive feedback reason described above and because of the potential for malware that collects email addresses and makes conventional email virtually useless.

  3. Come the Revolution, you will hang for making us pay for email!

    Besides, how frikkin often do you hear from ME?

  4. Enough that I could quit my day job…. again. ;) Now you have me thinking of charging for blog comments too, Mike. :)

  5. I think Ricky B is pretty close to an idea that would work. The money could even go to charity or to building more internet infrastructure. Even a legitimate power user would only spend a dollar or 2 a day, but the spammers would be gone.

  6. I can’t see how it could possibly work. How is this going to prevent malware/spyware/viruses from sending email from a zombie machine? Who’s going to police it? Are you going to force Joe Average (with the Zombie machine) to pay for his spammers emails? Please tell me how?

  7. One would need an account to charge the fees. It should not be hard to figure out some system to prevent people from using stolen credit cards. The system for digital certificates could be a guide.

    With our current system we face the prospect of a complete collapse of email.

  8. Benjamin Ries Friday, May 9, 2008

    I’m not sure that free email will necessarily collapse. Besides, an imposed pricing model would likely violate freedom of expression, and the one that’s being kicked around on threads like these (a flat per-email charge) is regressive in that it allows the rich to send more email than the poor, for X percentage of their incomes.

    Many phone companies have unlimited calling plans, and that world hasn’t ended. I don’t have to pay each time I walk out on the street and say something aloud. In those cases, we have noise by-laws and harassment suits that target only those who take things to a “problem” level.

    While we have already subjected the means of communication (ISP access) to the free market, to impose an artificial market on expression itself would be unconstitutional, unfair and unpopular.

  9. Hey, jk, how about a system where if we read a blog’s entries, WE GET PAID?

    I have PayPal now, Fiend!

    Pay up!


  10. Hi Kevin,

    I do not think it would be a good development to introduce a payment fee for sending an e-mail to someone. Owning a computer is already a financial investment. Companies next don’t tell you that a lot is share- and crapware, which already leaves you with a reduced usefullness of your purchase. Having an Internet connection is also a financial hurdle. With the introduction of paying e-mail you are potentially creating a barrier in free communication and sharing, that which was one of the aims of having Internet in the first place. I could imagine a worldwide collaps of the Internet, which would lead us back to the start of the 70’s technology. I think a lot of people would start leaving their computers in the attic and go discover nature. Bye bye computer market and a collapse of an economy.


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