Thursday, November 30, 2006

Viral (with no redeeming qualities)

A local electronics retailer sent me an incredible one-time offer and, best of all, gave me the option to tell my friends about it.

Who does this? Who is so insulated from dealing with their own spam that they are oblivious to the risk that giving away email addresses would mean for their friends or family?

Personally, I would never infringe on the privacy of anybody I had even a modicum of affection or respect for in this manner (Conor, I hope I gave your correct address).

Beyond the privacy issue, what's the motivation? What's in it for me beyond the gratification of increasing the spam burden of someone I care for? There is no hint of any social application (e.g. favourites list, wish list, reviews, tips, etc) that might be enabled by getting my friends/colleagues to sign-up.

In the Liberty Alliance People Service model, the sequence could work something like:
  1. Store sends me above email (unlike my friends, I've opted in to receive them)
  2. Message contains a number of custom URLs that I can choose to send onto whomever I wish
  3. When my friend receives the message, clicking on link takes them to etailer where they are given options of a) federating an IDP account of theirs with the etailer, and b) joining my People Service (so that future interactions between ourselves can be facilitated)
Key implications:
  1. I don't give away the email addresses of my friends indiscriminately
  2. Interesting social applications between them and I (like above) can be enabled without requiring them create an account at the etailer.
  3. I rely on more traditional mechanisms to inconvenience Conor.

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