Revisiting stamps for email

This post is by Seth Godin from Seth's Blog

I started agitating for this in 1997 and wrote about it in 2006. The problem with the magical medium of email is that it’s an open API. Anyone with a computer can plug into it, without anyone’s consent.

This creates an asymmetric attention problem. The selfish, short-term-thinking sender benefits by emailing as many people as possible, and the recipients suffer.

This doesn’t happen with traditional mail, because there’s a cost to sending it.

With GPT arriving, expect that spam is going to increase 100x, and that it will be eerily personalized, invasive and persistent. That it will be really difficult to believe that an email isn’t junk, because there’s going to be so much junk, and it’s going to be harder to filter.

And yet, email is powerful, and convenient and we’ve been using it for our entire careers. Is it doomed?

Some apps are showing up that are trying to create a paywall for email. An unknown sender has to make a donation to charity (the recipient specifies the amount) to reach your inbox. People have tried this off and on for decades, but it’s hard. There are two problems with this being widely adopted.

The first is that it creates an attention obligation on the part of the recipient. It’s socially awkward to sell access to your inbox and then ignore the email.

The second is that there isn’t much of a network effect, and while a few people might adopt it, the problems with email don’t (Read more...)