Should Email Still Be Free?

from the the-debate-rages-on dept

Following Vipul Prakash opinion piece from a few weeks ago saying that we shouldn’t break email to fix it, Barry Schein and Dave Crocker have responded, continuing the debate over at MIT’s Tech Review concerning how to deal with the spam problem. Schein argues that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with setting up artificial barriers to force people to pay for email, and that it will solve the “tragedy of the commons” that comes with open email. Crocker does an excellent job explaining why Schein’s argument doesn’t fly. First, Schein confuses fixed costs and variable costs of email. Then, Crocker points out that he seem s to be ignoring the indirect impact of switching email to a “usage-based fee” rather than a flat-rate. The additional costs of setting up a metering, billing system will go way beyond the benefit of slowing the tide of spam (which it probably won’t do anyway).

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