Death And (Email) Taxes

There comes a point in any discussion where it suffers from photon death, for lack of a better term. The discussion, of course, continues long after this point, but it is going to remain limited to something that generates nothing but heat.

We have cliches for this, of course. “Generates more heat than light.” “Beating a dead horse.” You probably know more, but you get the picture.

Now in the long post-mortem of the EFF and MoveOn.org‘s attempt to interject themselves into America Online‘s freedom to contract with third parties that’s better known as “DearAOL.com” it is now my turn to try to interject some light into the heat. It’s now been a month and three days since AOL flipped the switch on for Goodmail clients to send mail that bypasses their filters.

Since I work for an email service provider (Informz) that caters mainly to non-profit organizations, I think I have a pretty good handle on where things stand at T + 34 days. So… where do things stand?

That’s right. Exactly where they stood 35 days ago. Our delivery rates to AOL have not noticeably changed. When one of our clients does something stupid, they end up on a 24 hour block, just like they did before. When they do the right thing, they get delivered. To the recipient’s inbox, no less.

I’m the point of contact with AOL’s people. I haven’t gotten any demands that we pay Goodmail to use their imprinter. I haven’t even gotten any hints that we should. Further, I’ve publicly stated that we don’t really see Goodmail’s solution as a good fit for our clients – with Charles Stiles in the same room, doubtlessly listening as I spoke the words into a microphone in a California State Senate committee hearing room. Again, no penalty for my impudence.

So, what is all of this about? A search for relevance.

The EFF made its name with the Blue Ribbon campaign. Since then, you haven’t heard a lot out of it. “Dear AOL” was a good way for it to get its name in the papers and on blogs like this one. The problem is that it is just on the wrong side of this issue. The people there like to say that they’re in favor of innovation, but apparently, that’s only true until it makes more sense to pander to some “populist” paranoia about what someone’s contract might possibly mean for them – if everyone else in the world adopts it. And besides, it’s a sure way to get their names out there again appearing to stick up for the “little guy.”

MoveOn.org… what can I say about MoveOn.org? I’m an evil, conservative Republican. I’m predisposed to disbelieving anything that MoveOn.org says. But, it is also a group in search of relevance. It’s not very effective anymore. Yeah, it can raise money and it has a large following amongst the Angry Left, but it’s ineffective. Look at how well its candidates have done in recent elections. None of them have won. It’s had some come close, but getting MoveOn.org on your side is akin to asking Bob Shrum to be your political strategist. I mean, John Kerry came close, but today he’s still the junior Senator from Massachusetts. Doing something a little more popular might help it out some as it tries to ascertain why its candidates don’t win.

And this search for relevance is why it started the shrill talking about the death of email and the advent of email taxes. The lack of relevance found is why we’re a month into things and you’re not hearing about it anymore.

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[tags]eff,moveon.org,goodmail,blue ribbon campaign,dearaol,informz[/tags]

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