Spam is a tragedy of the commons, says Len Ellis of Wunderman, a direct marketing agency. I agree. After admitting that spam is wrecking direct marketing and that technical solutions are imperfect and temporary, his conclusion hints at (but fails to demand) a real solution:

While we curb despoilers and secure our own commercial freedoms, we must make it our business to exercise those freedoms to create an online commons worth protecting. We all share at least one common purpose: to secure a terrain where innovations and ambitions in information exchange between companies and consumers can be productively pursued. If we don’t properly cultivate our commons, spammers will deservedly prevail.

Why won’t anyone in the industry admit that “free market solutions” fail unless consumers have have (a) information and (b) power. Yesterday, I proposed a partial solution. but I think the gentleman from Wunderman will hate it.