A while ago I wrote briefly about monetizing spam. Esther Dyson wrote a year ago about a system called Vanquish, which combines challenge/response with the ability to fine commercial operators. Only catch: $40 a year (or 18mb, whichever comes first).
Let’s leave aside that I go through 18mb of email in a busy afternoon. (Not really, but I’m sure I’ve hit that during a busy couple of weeks.) $40? I might pay $4–for a proven service. The cost is not only prohibitive for me, it inhibits Metcalfe’s law.
Heck, that’s probably a corollary to to Metcalfe’s law…
Halavais’s Corollary: The value of a networked service is inversely proportionate to its cost.
So when AOL wants only paying customers, or those who use their own badged system, to benefit from AIM (or be able to leave comments on their blogs) it lowers the value of the system to potential and current users.
The solution is staring us in the face: it needs to be sponsor driven. How much do you think advertisers would pay to be able to be the only spam/ad that gets emailed to people each day? Wouldn’t you be willing to trade the inconvenience (perhaps) of a single piece of unsolicited spam for the mountains that arrive now?