Are We All Just Lazy?
A. Michael Noll
December 11, 2017
© 2017 AMN
How many of our new products and services are motivated mostly by our laziness? However, the marketing folks would claim that they are just making life easier for us.
Television sets of the past had tuners with knobs. To change a channel, we had to get up from our sofas and go to the TV set to turn the knob to a different channel. This was so much effort that we usually just left the TV set on a single channel for the entire evening. And then the TV remote was invented. Now we could relax in our sofas and simply press a button to flip from one channel to another – the height of laziness.
Today we have voice-assisted products. All we have to do is simply speak to it to obtain information or to turn on a lamp. No longer do we have to search the Internet by typing on a keyboard. We just speak to our computers and voice-assistants.
Decades ago, AT&T was attempting to market its video teleconferencing service. But people thought it was easier to take the train than to schedule and walk across the street to a teleconferencing room.
It takes physical energy and effort to speak – it can be tiring. Somehow it is easier just to type or text a message. Perhaps it simply takes less physical effort and is less tiring. But if we do not have a keyboard immediately available, then speech is the way to go.
There is a possible economic solution to spam, which is to make email more like postal mail. Postal mail requires a stamp – email should require a fee paid by the sender, in effect, an email stamp. With postal mail, the charges to deliver are collected by the Postal Service. For email, I propose that the recipients would collect the fees paid by the senders.
If postal mail were free, then other than printing there would be no other cost to mailing out vast amounts of junk mail. The requirement for a stamp – even if at a bulk rate – controls junk mail. If a postal envelope is dropped in the mailbox without a stamp, it is returned to the sender or just destroyed.
Email should also require the payment of a fee – an email stamp, which might be only a few cents and collected through micropayment. Without the payment, the email would not be delivered to the recipient. If an email were sent without its email stamp, it simply would go nowhere – lost in the void of cyber space.
The money from the email stamp would go to the recipient. In effect, the recipient would be charging someone to send an email and have it be received. These charges would be excused for known and pre-approved senders, and thus would, in effect, be free like today.
A few years ago, Yahoo! Was working on a scheme for charging for email in which the proceeds would go to charity – the scheme was celled “CentMail” – but was not implemented. What I am proposing is that the email charges go to the recipients – they can keep them or donate them or apply them to the yearly fee charged by their ISP.
The system I am proposing would be implemented by the ISP of the recipient, with a portion of the charge retained by the ISP. The system would be optional.
Telemarketing is another form of spam. It is difficult to block, and “free” telephone calling eliminates any real cost to the telemarketer. An economic solution would be for recipients to charge for calls made to their number, but excuse the charge for known callers.
The goal of a “free” Internet was always elusive and Utopian. It is time for reality to guide the future of the Internet and the cyber world. It is also time for economic reality to control spam.
A. Michael Noll