Digital Postage? I Wish It Were

This week I saw a headline from Pete Rizzo, “21 Inc Opens Bitcoin Email Service to General Public”.

“Wow!”, I thought, “Finally! The ultimate spam control!”

But, like many things to do with the company called ‘21’, it ain’t what they say it is. (See thisthis, or this.)

What I was thinking of, of course, is a digital postage stamp. Your email will not be delivered to me without “postage” attached. It could be a tiny, tiny amount, and it could potentially be transferrable or reusable (i.e., I might be able to spend it). The point is that any amount f postage above ‘zero’ would kill spam dead.

And, by the way, postage could fund the email service without selling personal information.

Win, win.

Cryptocurrency is a perfect technology for this concept. Cryptocoins are purely digital and can be denominated in tiny fractions. Basically, you would use an email server that requires a tiny amount of Bitcoin or whatever attached to each message, or else it won’t accept the item for delivery.

Ta da! No more spam.

I thought the headline was about something like this.

Sadly, this is actually the reverse of the postage stamp idea. It is a version of “fill out this survey and win a coupon”. Scarcely a new idea, and basically a way to make spam more precise. Sigh.

I grant you, 21’s service does make spammers pay, but only if you actually respond. Postage has to be paid for every message, not just the accepted ones, so it is a much, much more potent brake.

Thr marketing pitch tells us that part of the game is that they have a select mail list (initially with a lot of “famous people” such as Marc Andreessen). They offer this as a way to “Get in touch with busy people”,  paying them to click on your survey or reply to your plea for funding.  Why I would want to send anyone such a survey or query, let alone these jokers, is beyond me.

I notice that you or me will be offered pennies for our opinion, while the VIPs charge a bit more. “Get replies from 50+ angel investors for $20 per reply”, and so on. What a racket!

And what a waste. I would actually be interested in a “postage stamp” service, even from bozos like 21.

But “microconsulting”, AKA, responding to commercial “surveys”, has no appeal to me at all.


  1. Pete Rizzo, 21 Inc Opens Bitcoin Email Service to General Public.May 1 2017, http://www.coindesk.com/21-inc-opens-bitcoin-email-service-to-general-public/

 

Cryptocurrency Thursday

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