Over the last several months I have been losing increasing amounts of e-mail sent to my POP3 e-mail box, whose address is based on my old Web site domain.
When this e-mail comes from business associates, from companies I'm writing about, I can make a call and get it re-sent. Sometimes I have to watch it fly away from my Mailwasher screen because I neglected to whitelist it, and that's embarrassing. Sometimes I never see it at all.
Recently I had a personal e-mail, sent from someone I knew, fall through the cracks. The story involves other people so I can't detail it. But the result nearly cost our family dearly. It still threatens us. The person in question was not a friend, they did not re-send, the e-mail was not expected, and the failure of that e-mail to arrive caused enormous misunderstandings, a short time later, whose repercussions may be felt for years.
People assume when they send an e-mail that it will get through. When it doesn't, they may believe the loss was deliberate. That's the way we are. We hit send and expect results.
The picture is from Martin Geddes' Telcopalypse blog. I disagree with Martin fundamentally on the way the Internet should be designed and managed. But please do read his blog often for the other side.
So I've taken the step of giving people I know a Web-based e-mail address, one with a lot of spam filters in front of it. Its archive isn't arranged in folders as I like it to be. It's a lot clunkier than Outlook. Its filters aren't mine, so it may whitelist stuff I consider spam, and block stuff I want to see.
Interestingly, both my kids did this a long time ago. Maybe the Internet generation is smarter than us.
Now when people send me e-mail there's a better chance it will get here, because the service's centralized spam filters are good and because I don't give the e-mail address out to everyone.
Right now 90% of the standard Internet traffic I see consists of spam. Music companies insist that 90% of the traffic they see is illegal peer-to-peer.
Perhaps 99% or more of Internet traffic is just waste, garbage, pollution deliberately fed into the system by people trying to steal or horde or scam someone.
If more effective spam-fighting were available, 90% of bandwidth costs would disappear. I strongly suspect the phone monopolies wouldn't care for that, because the demand for lower prices, and faster feeds, would grow.
Right now, the average American pays $50/month for just enough bandwidth to download short videos into small windows. Technology exists to deliver full-motion, full-screen, two-way video to every American user, either by capturing all of a DSL line or by just freeing up some more cable bits for use by Internet traffic.
The monopolists don't want that. They want everything defined as services which they control. The cable operators will decide which channels you get to see, and which you don't, and how much you'll pay for what based on their "tiering" system which is built to extract the maximum amount of money from your pocket. The phone operators want to sell you cable, too, and define every VOIP call you make as an individual phone "service," for the same exact purpose.
This is restraint of trade. This is restraint of the market. This is restraint of technology. This is a violation of Moore's Law. And the temptation, in the face of the continuing, rising spam flood, is to put more filters and controls in the center of the network, which these monopolists will then define as services to raise your bills still further.
For the future economic security of America, that must not be allowed to happen.
But right now the stupid network is being overwhelmed by stupid people, while the monopolists smile all the way to your bank account.