Re: Wanted: Your comments on “Intimidation or Free Speech” [cr-95/11/14]


Sender: •••@••.••• (David S. Bennahum)

On november 11, Philip Stills wrote:

>Using, I contacted numerous people individually by e-mail after
>finding their unique postings in Newsgroups which reflected their specific
>interest in the subject of my book
> and encouraged them to
>get more information by visiting my WebSite.
>You can Read or Print Chapter One

Part of the power of cyberspace, perhaps one of the most significant parts
of it, is the simple fact that I can reach 1 person as easily as 100,
10,000 or 10 whatever.  As we've all said many times before, this is a
fundamental shift of power (Assuming in today's world information is a
large part of power) from what had been a limited pool of elites to
individuals.  Having put in this bit of context let's look at the case of
this Philip Stills guy.

In the case of this guy sending out unsolicited email to plug his book, he
toed that offensive line we're all so wary of -- unsolicited email junk.
But at the same time, hey, this is part of the deal of cyberspace:
sometimes I get unsolicited email that turns out to be *extremely*
worthwhile, even leading to a story idea, etc.  So how do we balance
between protecting ourselves from truly vile spam without losing the
seredipidy of unsolicited information?  In this case, this guy Philip
Stills, offered something in return for your attention: a free look at the
first chapter of his book.  I think that actually makes a difference, he is
giving us free information in return for what cannot be more than a 30
second email hiccup.  Is that automatically vile, wrong and contrary to all
rules of netiquette?  I think it is not.  There has to be some sort of
barter system on the Net (your time for free information), otherwise why
bother being on the Net, if all we want to do is control every last bit of
email that crosses our door?  Isn't this an acceptable by-product of having
this power to contact 1, 100 or 10,000,000 people -- that some stranger is
going to show up on your electronic doorstep and say, "hey, pay attention
to this"?


  David S. Bennahum
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 Posted by Andrew Oram  - •••@••.••• - Moderator: CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)
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