[discuss] Another couple of items

Avri Doria avri at acm.org
Tue Jan 14 14:53:49 UTC 2014

On 13-Jan-14 20:04, Rinalia Abdul Rahim wrote:
> Avri,
> Can you provide examples for "4. Issues that while of public interest
> regardless, are transformed by the Internet"?
> Rinalia

Hmm, without taking into account Parminder's recasting of the issue back 
to 3.  Or Brian's explanations as I have not not thought them through 
yet.  And with the liability of proving how clueless I am:

The first possible example that comes to my academic mind is SPAM.

Certainly Bulk email is a fact of life and was for a long time before 
the Internet (though I admit I have not done research on bulk mail and 
when it began - it might have been the Sear's catalog back in the 19th 
century).  It has been a public interest issue and in the form of Junk 
mail discussions is still an issue for many people and institutions. And 
may even be an international issue at the UPU (Universal Postal Union) 
for all I know.

SPAM can be defined to be bulk mail on the Internet.  I certainly think 
of it that way in my naive way.  And for years, I must confess, I argued 
that I did not see the problem with SPAM because it was just like bulk 
mail and I could ignore/filter it if I didn't want it, just like i do at 
home with the physical junk they send me - I even bought a shredder. 
But then I started to talking to people who lived outside WEOG (the UN 
defined Western Europe and others group) about the costs they incur for 
receiving SPAM.  Unlike Bulk mail in non Internet, which is often a 
profit center that keeps the post offices operating, in the Internet it 
is a burden in many ways that are costs without a possible profit.  And 
the technology, for all our discussions, has not found a way to fix 
this, though the issues are due in part to the technology that has been 
deployed and the policies we have made related to traffic.  This is also 
not just a problem in the cross-border sense and can be just as big a 
problem internal to a specific country.

Now after sleeping on it, whether this is called a boundary condition or 
is evidence of a phenomenon that is qualitatively transformed on the 
Internet from the non-virtual world (to avoid the term meat space), I am 
not sure and can see getting into long semantic discussions under the 
correct conditions.  And as I don't know what is being discussed on 
physical bulk mail in international discussions, I may find that I am 
completely wrong about the facts.  But on the surface of it, this is the 
kind of of transformative issue I am thinking of.


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