Misunderstanding Computers

Why do we insist on seeing the computer as a magic box for controlling other people?
Why do we want so much to control others when we won't control ourselves?

Computer memory is just fancy paper, CPUs are just fancy pens with fancy erasers, and the network is just a fancy backyard fence.
コンピュータの記憶というものはただ改良した紙ですし、CPU 何て特長ある筆に特殊の消しゴムがついたものにすぎないし、ネットワークそのものは裏庭の塀が少し拡大されたものぐらいです。

(original post/元の投稿 -- defining computers site/コンピュータを定義しようのサイト)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Providing Mailing Lists and Newsgroups

If only service providers really provided what you want for mailing lists.

Google gets close with its groups. But one thing missing, that would seriously limit mailing lists being harvested for unwanted e-mail, is giving registered users their own list addresses.

Sourceforge gives their users a sourceforge address. They also buffer their forum and developer services, so that it's hard for spammers to get user addresses and hard to abuse the addresses that they do find. That means that I can use their services rather freely without too much worry of drowning in a delusion of fake viagra offers and such.

The gmail accounts that Google sets up don't quite match. They are general addresses, and people tend to use them as such. What we want is for Google to provide group-only addresses, along the lines of
Well, that's a long address. But when molly.m posts to the group, she can tell the group server to show only her group address. 

If someone wants to contact molly.m about needing help to move a million euros out of turkey because the owner died and the rightful heir can't seem to get a visa into the country or some such fantasy, well, they send the unwanted offer to the group address above, and the group server flags it as not being from a registered user, then proceeds to apply strict automatic checks on the content and flags it as probably unwanted mail. 

And, if the server is being really helpful, it could give molly.m web browser access to the posts she gets from the list, so she doesn't have to download the whole message to see the sender and subject, and the flagged messages could be on a separate page, sortable by the reasons they were flagged, similar to Google's spam boxes.

Actually, you can get something similar to this through Google's commercial services. But this is what all ISPs should be providing.

This is what is out-of-balance in the current economy, Google has gotten well down the road to what a real ISP should be, so far that the small providers can't keep up. 

They have done so on the back of open source software, but they aren't feeding their improvements back upstream. That's great for their bottom line on advertising dollars, and doesn't directly hurt the smaller ISPs financially, but it gathers too much power into one organization. And, while it really doesn't do direct damage, it does indirect damage to the economy in general. Ordinary companies can't compete, so they drop out.

Drifting off topic, but losing one small company from the economy means lost jobs, lost wage earners, lost purchasing power, and, ultimately, fewer people buying with fewer dollars. One company doesn't hurt so much, but when too many small companies drop out, it dampens the overall economy.

That's why Google is too big.

That's also why Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, and IBM are too big. And that's why the automakers and banks and artists associations are too big.

Back on topic, part of the reason Google jumped so far ahead also happens to be that ordinary providers had already forgotten that they were selling services. They were already too stingy with e-mail addresses, too slow to add filtering, and too willing to charge extra for the filtering. So it's not all Google's fault.

Another thing they've been too slow about is what I'm talking about here. ISPs should be providing newsgroup services for their subscribers already, and the services should allow group-only addresses as I suggest above. It should be okay to charge for larger list and newsgroup support, but support for small lists and groups should be included in the basic fees, or available for what my provider charges for a dingle simple second address.

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