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Strategies for a discontinuous future.












Friday, February 06, 2004
 


Bill Gates is now pushing for pay-for-email. Is this sensible? A quick review of my take:

I think spam is only stoppable by economics, not technology. That's because technology is brittle, and easy to hack - but structures built on deep understandings of the microeconomics underlying spam can provide massive disincentives to spam in the first place.

In the fall, I posted a detailed plan based on spamonomics - I don't have time to find the link right now. The crux was that you would put a (small) deposit in escrow, which would only be drawn against if collaborative filters or other simple technologies discovered you were spamming.

Even then, the curve of the penalty function could be altered that spamming your 100 closest friends would only cost you 10 cents on a deposit of 10 bucks - but spamming 1,000,000 would cost you exponentially more.

The thing I like about this system is that good behaviour isn't penalized - there's no disincentive to send regular old emails - like there is in billg's scheme. If you don't misbehave, you can withdraw your deposit at any time.

Of course, then there's MS's strategic angle - you can bet that if MS is the one controlling the point of contact (the billing engine), email as we know it will come to a grinding halt - because the price will (relatively) go through the roof.

-- umair // 12:33 PM //


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