|TechTransform, July 10, 2002: In NUA Surveys last week, two contrasting articles sat right next to each other. I thought they illustrated the crazy situation we're in right now:
Jun 27 2002: Around 61 percent of Marketers in the US expect their email marketing budgets to increase over the next 12 months.
Jun 27 2002: Silicon.com reports that Internet users will eventually have to stop using email because of spam.
Spam Is Booming
According to Toronto's TheStar.com, junk e-mail increased a whopping 450 per cent last month compared with June a year ago.
And check out this chart:
But I didn't have to tell you all that, you know how much spam you're getting. The question is: will spam kill off email?
Will Spam Kill Off Email?
I don't think so. I don't know about you, but computer viruses didn't stop me from using my computer.
But while email won't go away, some of the solutions to spam will greatly reduce our ability to communicate with each other using this marvelous tool. Here are some of the solutions and what they might affect the email universe.
The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg has given his endorsement to Top Cop, what I call a "walled garden" program that basically doesn't let anything through from anyone you don't know.
I don't like that solution much. No matter how smart the program is, it will tend to wall off communication and greatly reduce legitimate marketing communications.
Joining The Collective
Then there is the SpamNet kind of solution, where a network of your peers decides what is and isn't spam.
That can be dangerous, as one posting in a ZDNet article put it: the system is so reliant on the accuracy of the community that if people blindly block legitimate/opt-in email ...they are potentially blocking it for those users who do want to get the mail.
In other words, good luck getting something unblocked that you might actually want!
Another interesting approach can be found here. This thoughtful article on self regulation by internet users is well worth reading.
But until we get an enlightened group solution (always a suspicious thing), the best solution to me is a program that helps you manage your own spam for your own personal situation.
Good products do exist in this category. like I Hate Spam and Spam Killer. They are smart enough to help you manage your own flood of spam to your personal requirements.
It's up to you to decide if you want a product that sits inside Outlook, like I Hate Spam, or runs separately, like Spam Killer.
The Bottom Line
Will email go away? No. But you can look forward to a lot of preventive action, and some of it, including government regulation, may act to reduce the usefulness of this great tool: email.