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(June 1998)

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Subject: Re: Ron's idea (and mine)
From: Rich Kulawiec <rsk @ gsp . org>
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 23:12:31 -0400
To: list-managers @ GreatCircle . COM
In-reply-to: <199806120259 . VAA16925 @ celery . tssi . com>; from Mike Nolan on Thu, Jun 11, 1998 at 09:59:03PM -0500
References: <19980611202224 . A21413 @ gsp . org> <199806120259 . VAA16925 @ celery . tssi . com>

On Thu, Jun 11, 1998 at 09:59:03PM -0500, Mike Nolan wrote:
> Not any more than the existence of long distance phone charges inhibited
> the spread of fax machines.

Apples and oranges.  There aren't tens of millions of fax machines out there
operated by individuals/organizations/companies/governments which will
*supply* information to you on demand.  Why not?  Because very few people
can afford the expense of providing information to the entire planet
via the telephone system.  

I'll also note that at least where I live, the telco (Bell Atfrantic) has
set rates far in excess of the actual cost of providing the service.
Since they have an effective monopoly, there's no incentive for them
not to.  I strongly believe that attempting to impose the telco charging
model ("settlements") on the 'net would (a) create effective monopolies
not unlike the telcos and (b) represents an attempt to apply an obsolete
notion of commerce to a new medium that doesn't need it.

> Actually, I got interested in this idea less as a means of controlling
> spammers than as a more equitable means of paying for and thus allocating 
> scarce net resources.

Just exactly what scarce net resources are those?

And if we were able to stop the abuses, would they still be scarce?

I've seen estimates that 40% to 70% of Usenet traffic is spam; I'd say
that wiping that out would recoup a lot of CPU cycles, bandwidth and
disk space not just on the servers which handle Usenet news, but on
all the other machines involved in shuffling it around -- right down
to the end-clients.  I wonder how much backbone traffic is spam (mail)?
I wonder how much 'net traffic could be alleviated by the use of proxy caching
web servers?  Or by judicious use of mailing list exploders?

And so on.  I think the only reason any resources are scarce at the
moment is that they are either being horribly abused or used very
inefficiently.  Well-known solutions exist for both cases, without
requiring the imposition of an inappropriate economic model.

To answer your final question, I don't oppose this because "it hasn't
always been this way".  In nearly two decades on the 'net, I've adapted
to a lot of things that *weren't* always this way; I'm usually one of
people pushing for changes long before anyone else even sees what needs
to be changed.  I oppose it because I think it's a bad idea.

Rich Kulawiec
rsk @
 gsp .

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