October 21, 2005

The Cobbler's Children

Congratulations to the Journal of Digital Information on the release of the first issue from their new home, having navigated the move from Southampton to College Station, Texas.

In a small oversight, JODI (now in its sixth year) sent out email announcing the new issue, but forgot to include the URL.

In another small oversight, JODI sent me more than a hundred copies of the announcement.

This, incidentally, is actually a counter-argument for the 'internet stamp' approach to spam reduction. Yes, a small charge per email would put a brake on spam. But it would also exact a huge penalty for honest errors like this, where a server goes awry. We don't understand spam anyway: in particular, why do people send out spam ads that can't possibly attract buyers when it's just as easy to sell things that people might actually buy? T-shirts, pamphlets, food, charitable donations, advice on buying a radio for your new Mercedes: surely, more people would buy these than the Nigerian spam scam? There's something we've forgotten: cui bono?