I was recently debating with myself over whether I should send courtesy copies of a particular email to particular people. I was asking myself if those people would be mad at me for "spamming" them with an unsolicited email (some people have gone so far as to define "spam" as any unsolicited email, particularly when sent to a non-acquaintance). It then occurred to me that if I know that my email is on a subject of particular interest to particular people because the subject concerns their jobs, their organizations, or their special interests, then it would actually be inconsiderate and rude of me to not
send them courtesy copies to let them decide for themselves whether the email is of interest to them. Also, it is often rude to talk about people or organizations behind their backs. Seriously, how long does it take to handle an unwanted email when the subject line is descriptive and the email's text has a good introduction? A few seconds at most. And it often takes no more than a minute or two to read an entire email. How can such a small potential loss of time be compared to the possibility of missing an important idea or piece of information? In comparison, snail-mail letters often don't have good subject lines on the envelope and it takes some time to open the envelope and unfold the letter. And one of the great advantages of the Internet is that sending courtesy copies is easy and cost-free! There are a lot of Luddites out there who oppose progress by trying to prevent themselves and others from taking full advantage of the Internet (e.g., that unscrupulous Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney, Kevin Bankston, firstname.lastname@example.org, who threatened to block my emails addressed to other EFF staffers).
I welcome all emails on subjects that are of interest to me, even when I disagree with the emails. You don't learn anything by burying your head in the sand. As a professor of psychology said in explaining why well-educated people tend to do better than uneducated people on intelligence tests, "you can't be a genius if you don't know anything."
Our screwed-up Internet culture is badly in need of reform.
Labels: Internet censorship (new #1)