Since sending e-mail is within rounding error of free, there's no
natural friction and the natural strategy is to send every message
to everyone until they make you stop, thereby causing the
well-known scaling problems.
Who are you, and what have you done with the John Levine who so
assiduously speaks against e-postage?
Humph. I assumed "... therefore the whole idea is unworkable" was obvious.
I'm afraid that train has left the station: too many ISPs find
flat-rate the only way to keep customers, and too many consumer PCs
are easily herded into bot-nets.
That's flat rate internet access, which has all sorts of advantages.
For details, see nearly anything Andy Odlyzko has written.
We put friction on e-mailers by applying penalties to those who send
mail that recipients don't want. I agree that the current system is
not very good, but we don't seem to have much success coming up with
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