The TechCrunch wishlist

TechCrunch lists some companies they’d like to see move into the online space, kind of a wishlist of Web 2.0 technologies. The list is making the rounds on various tech blogs like it’s the Second Coming (which I can’t figure out, it’s not that revolutionary a list), and while overall it’s a decent read, I do have one point of contention:

2. Blog/website Email Lists

People can visit my site, and get the content via RSS, but I know of no quality service to allow people to subscribe to my site via email.

…I want people to have the option of getting an email every post, every day, or every week.

I also want to know that I and I alone control these email addresses so that they will not under any circumstances be misused. If I change services, I want to have an easy export feature to take these with me (OPML would be nice).

I also want access to real time stats. The number of emails, type of subscription, how often they are opened and what things are being clicked on.

And users need a very easy way to stop the emails.

I’m willing to pay for this. Probably as much as $20 per month. A free version should be offered too that’s add supported and maybe doesn’t have the analytics.

I read this and I thought, “Uh, hello? The 1990s called, and wants its listserv back.”

Seriously, why the hell would anyone want to receive website updates via email these days? That just seems so backward-thinking.

On the other hand, there’s a couple of the other items that I like: Portable reputations, and tailored local offers via RSS.

And Richard MacManus follows up with a similar post, and in particular I like his first idea: more Web 2.0 products for eBooks. I’m not sure specifically what he has in mind for this, but I have some ideas. None that I’m gonna share here, though. :)

Spam Pounder

So the spam problem finally got to be a little overwhelming on our BendCable email account, and we opted in to use BendCable’s anti-spam software/service, Spam Pounder. But here’s the catch: you don’t actually get this anti-spam service on your regular email, no—instead they change your email to a address because that’s where they have the actual anti-spam software running. (In order to preserve your address—which you may have had for years, as we have, and don’t want it gone—they set up a forward that shunts everything from your address to the one.)

I mean, what the hell is that? Sure changing your email address is a solution for spam, but that’s not the point. I don’t have a lot of confidence in an ISP that can’t even set up spam filtering software on their main mail server, fer chrissakes.

And what the hell is with that name (“Spam Pounder”) and logo?? The images I’m associating with it are not good ones…

Now, having said all that, I will concede that so far it’s doing the job: almost all of the spam is now being caught, I’d give it a 98-99% effectiveness rating so far. The technology seems to work.

But why can’t BendCable integrate this into their main email server like everyone else?

Broken email prognostication

I’ve been reading a lot about how email is broken these days—articles here, here and here are examples—and interestingly, I came across the following passage in Cryptonomicon (published in 1999) that I thought was apropos:

“I hate e-mail,” John says.

Harvard Li stares him in the eye for a while. “What do you mean?”

“The concept is good. The execution is poor. People don’t observe any security precautions. A message arrives claiming to be from Harvard Li, they believe it’s really from Harvard Li. But this message is just a pattern of magnetized spots on a spinning disk somewhere. Anyone could forge it.”