Should asking for attention have a small fee in the information society?
"...in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it" 
An extension to the SMTP protocol or an amendatory protocol could allow a recipient to demand postage for emails, depending on the sender. A first-time sender could generally be required to pay postage (similar schemes have been considered to address SPAM). A known sender could be required to pay postage depending on a category (e.g. first-time introduction, personal, business, customer, support). Senders would have to be able to inquire about the postage required to send an email either through a web interface in the reply to an undelivered email or through an amendatory protocol. The sender could choose the charitable purpose or leave it to the recipient to do that.
The beneficial effects, besides fundraising, could be that
- email might be used somewhat more restrictive in some scenarios (email contributes significantly to noise in the information society and motivating more restrictive use could be beneficial)
- sender or recipient would be motivated to consider charitable purposes for small donations that were theirs to spend but no longer theirs. (Similar to customer bonus programs that allow to spend points on personal gifts or for charitable purposes, e.g. , )
Collective intelligence Edit
Amusingly (pretended) lack of collective intelligence and foresight leads to a beneficial effect here: Acting collectively intelligent people would easily avoid paying postage but under the pretense of not being able to avoid paying postage senders might choose to get back at the recipients by also demanding postage. Collectively intelligent people would choose to pretent to lack collective intelligence and foresight in order to gain the beneficial effects: One beneficial effect here, whose causation could be seen as a moral obligation, is that people who were actually not particularly interested in donating money for charitable purposes might sneakily be corrupted to take an interest because they would suddenly have a budget for it that had no other conceivable use. People might flip through a catalog like goodgifts.org simply because there was a budget to be spend and they liked shopping or due to force of habit.
digital divide Edit
A postage fee for email would add another aspect to the digital divide: A distinction between people able to pay postage and people unable to pay postage. The problem could be addressed by automatically recommended standard fees dependent on the originator's country, including zero-fee recommendations for the least developed countries.
provider policies Edit
To verify the policies of postage providers a framework like esp may be useful: A recipient could be enabled to demand certain policies from providers in order for them to qualify as admissible postage providers. The amendatory protocol or SMTP extension could allow the sender to negotiate admissible postage providers before sending an email. While this would increase the above problem (the digital divide) it would probably lead to widespread adoption of highest standards to avoid any incompatibilities. To improve the value of high standards as motivation instead of an instant incompatibility new policies could be adopted by recipients with transition periods during which postage providers would be alerted to missing policies but would be accepted as postage providers. Postage providers could be generally expected to be non-profit organizations (e.g. following the goodgifts.org example).
the chicken or the egg Edit
Adoption would obviously be hampered by lack of adoption all-around. During a transition period people could be invited to put up banners announcing their participation after a deadline and the software could be run in a mode that demanded postage in advance but tolerated lack of postage with an automatic reply that alerted the sender of the deadline.