NYTimes has conversations with seven people who have come up with ideas for a solution to “unclogging the information artery.”
Esther Dyson: The model I like is the set-your-own-price-to-receive-mail model. Each person decides whether it costs 50 cents or $1 or whatever to send him or her mail. You charge only for mail you don’t already know that you want. The magic of it is, people can really define their own terms. You want to build a system that lets the person you met at a party try you once. In an ideal world, the people you charge drop away, and you only get mail from the people you know and want to hear from.
Microsoft: Our proposal is to allow commercial senders to participate in a self-regulatory program that would provide a seal if they followed a set of best practices. The filters would take participation in such a program as an input.
EarthLink: we will introduce Spam Blocker, which augments what we have done with filtering. Users only see messages in their in-boxes from people in their address books. If you send me an e-mail for the first time, your message goes into my “suspect” mailbox. The system generates a message back to the sender, who is referred to a Web page, where it is necessary to fill in some information, including copying a number from an image that a machine could not read. Then I will see that you want to send me mail, and I can refuse or say O.K. Mail sent by automated e-mail generating programs will never get through.