Joe Cherner, the former bond-trader whiz who’s devoted the last decade of his life to helping the world’s public spaces go smoke-free, finds spam — the unsolicited junk e-mail most of us get — almost as annoying as smoke.

He proposes the following simple solution:

  1. Anyone could send spam, but it would all have to have the words “Unsolicited Mail” in the subject heading.
  1. E-mail providers would provide users — you and me — with a filter option to refuse mail with “Unsolicited Mail” in the subject heading.
  1. “Unsolicited Mail” would be further broken down into categories: “Unsolicited Mail-Products,” “Unsolicited Mail-Services,” “Unsolicited Mail-Pornography,” “Unsolicited Mail-Make Money,” and “Unsolicited Mail-Advocacy.”
  1. Unsolicited Mail could be further broken down into sub-categories so people interested in motorcycles can receive spam about motorcycles without receiving other spam.
  • A typical spam subject heading would look like this: “Unsolicited Mail Products: Computer Software.”

The e-mail filter choices we’d have would allow us to accept all unsolicited mail, none of it, or some of it, tailored to our interests; e.g., no pornography or make-money spams, but products and services and advocacy. And within products, only spams about motorcycles and stereo equipment. Or within advocacy, only those on issues of . . . well, in Joe’s case, smoking.

Incidentally, I know the heir to the Spam fortune — the physical Spam that you eat — and he is as nice a guy, and as generous, as they come. Who knows? If cigars, which are disgusting and bad for you, can make a comeback, maybe Spam — which is far less disgusting and may not be bad for you at all — is poised for resurgence, too. Can’t you just see Schwarzenegger on the cover of Canned Meat Aficionadogrinning over a tin of Spam?

Anyway, isn’t Joe’s idea a good one? What are we missing here?

 

 

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