April 20, 2006

Tonight: "Email -- Should the Sender Pay?": EFF Fundraiser, Debate Between Esther Dyson and Danny O'Brien

Details below about this event at EFF.

At eTech, Esther and Annalee Newitz were talking about Goodmail, innovation in spam control for email and the controversy with EFF and others around this topic. I asked them both about stats. What I wanted to know was how much (number and percentages) email is spam, how much is non-profit email, how much is educational, and how much is political speech?

My feeling was that with those kinds of stats, and an agreement that we would let the IRS decide who should get free email if we instituted a pay for send system, we could give this a try. The issue with the IRS is this: they give tax exempt status to entities who are non-profits, some political organizations and others, and if an organization has that piece of paper from the IRS, we should exempt them from fees. The additional step for political organizations might be that we also use state and federal Fair Political Practice Commissions that also have organizations categorized. But with these kinds of certifications and exemptions from fees, we could try, innovate, experiment with different email systems that might help us solve some of the spam issues we currently have online.

One thing, when I was having this discussion with Esther and Annalee, I realized that I don't really get spam. This, even though my email address is on the front of my blog. I'm sure the spam is coming in like crazy, but because the ISP that hosts my hoster is clearing away some, and then my hoster clears more at the server level, after which the remaining batch has to go through the specific email system I have set up with my settings and training about what is spam on his servers and then I have more clearing going on at the email client level on my computer, I see about one spam email every week or so. It's rare, especially considering I get 1000 email a day. So I hadn't thought for a while about what a problem this is at the email level. In fact, I see far more spam blog, or splog, spam, via comments, trackbacks and in posts and through live web search, than I do in email. So my sense of the problem was really underwhelming for email and overwhelming for live web stuff.

Anyway, come to the debate tonight, to hear the arguments for and against!

Roxie Cinema
3117 16th St (Yahoo! Maps, Google Maps)
San Francisco, California

* "Email -- Should the Sender Pay?": EFF Fundraiser, Debate
Between Esther Dyson and Danny O'Brien

In light of AOL's adopting a "certified" email system, EFF
is hosting a debate on the future of email. With
distinguished entrepreneur Mitch Kapor moderating, EFF
Activist Coordinator Danny O'Brien and renowned tech expert
Esther Dyson will discuss the potential consequences if
people have to pay to send email. Would the Internet
deteriorate as a platform for free speech? Would spam or
phishing decline?

Thursday, April 20th, 2006
7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


"Email - Should the Sender Pay?"


Danny O'Brien

Danny O'Brien is the Activist Coordinator for the EFF. His job is to help our membership in making their voice heard: in government and regulatory circles, in the marketplace, and with the wider public. Danny has documented and fought for digital rights in the UK for over a decade, where he also assisted in building tools of open democracy like Fax Your MP. He co-edits the award-winning NTK newsletter, has written and presented science and travel shows for the BBC, and has performed a solo show about the Net in the London's West End.

Esther Dyson

Esther Dyson is editor at large at CNET Networks, where she is responsible for its monthly newsletter, Release 1.0, and its PC Forum, the high-tech market's leading annual executive conference. As editor at large, she also contributes insight and content to CNET Networks' other properties. She sold her business, EDventure Holdings, to CNET Networks in early 2004. Previously, she had co-owned
EDventure and written/edited Release 1.0 since 1983. Recently, Esther authored a New York Times editorial called "You've Got Goodmail," defending a sender-pays model for the future of email.

Mitch Kapor

Mitchell Kapor is the President and Chair of the Open Source Applications Foundation, a non-profit organization he founded in 2001 to promote the development and acceptance of high-quality application software developed and distributed using open source methods and licenses. He is widely known
as the founder of Lotus Development Corporation and the designer of Lotus 1-2-3, the "killer application" which made the personal computer ubiquitous in the business world in the 1980's. In 1990, Kapor co-founded EFF.

Roxie Film Center
3117 16th Street, San Francisco
(between Valencia and Guerrero)
Tel: (415) 863-1087

See the link below for a map:

Local Muni are the 22 and 53 (both at 16th & Valencia), 33
(18th & Valencia), 14 (16th & Mission), 49 (16th & Mission).
BART stops one block east at 16th & Mission.

Public Parking is available on Hoff Street, off of 16th
between Valencia and Mission at very reasonable rates.

This fundraiser is open to the general public. The suggested
donation is $20.
No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Please RSVP to events@eff.org

Adaptive Path is the generous sponsor of this fundraising event. Founded in 2001, Adaptive Path is a leading user experience consulting, research, and training firm that has provided services to a range of clients, including Fortune 100 corporations, pure-Web startups, and established nonprofit organizations. The company is headquartered in San Francisco. To learn more about Adaptive Path, visit the company website at:

To learn more about the DearAOL campaign against AOL's planned system:

For Esther Dyson's editorial, "You've Got Goodmail".

Posted by Mary Hodder at April 20, 2006 08:00 AM | TrackBack

Hi, Mary -

I hope you don't mind a driveby comment. I was doing some Technorati research to try to figure out how rankism factors into the social media conversation, and it seems to me that you were the one who got the ball rolling on that. I then used Technorati's authority slider to get different views on the posts. According to Technorati, your blog has "a lot of authority". I thought you'd get a kick out of the irony of that.

I'm not sure if you're aware that Robert Fuller, the person who coined the idea of "rankism", lives in Berkeley. He doesn't wade that deeply into social media issues, but it's pretty easy to strike up a conversation with him if you're ever curious about his general ideas about overcoming rankism.

Ps. I originally posted this comment on an ancient archived article. In my creative view of the world, I'm declaring this remark relevant to Esther Dyson:

Posted by: elisa at April 27, 2006 08:11 PM