Thursday, November 01, 2007

Kos: just say no to political junk snail mail

Kos is pissed at the amount of paper political campaigns waste:

It really is infuriating. I blame direct mail consultants who charge per piece sent. They must love these growing contributor lists because they get to send more crap to people who OBVIOUSLY prefer to donate online. I get direct mail from campaigns and it goes straight into the shredder and recycling bin.

So here's what I'm going to do -- starting in December, I will NOT FUNDRAISE for any candidate who does not pledge to stop direct mail to people who contribute via ActBlue.

It's a waste of money, and it's degrading to the environment. I'm tired of it. People are tired of it. And if campaigns won't listen, then I'm through with them.

Amen! And it's sick that consultants get paid per piece sent, just like it's sick that campaign consultants get paid a percentage of television ad spending. What a crappy incentive system! That needs to be thrown out, too. I never give money to direct mail solicitations. Never never never. If you want me to give money to your organization, send me an e-mail. I'll probably delete it, but it's much cheaper than a paper letter and much better for the environment and it's faster for both of us.

If you really want to get my attention, find a relevant post on my blog and leave a thoughtful comment. That way I know you're not just spamming me. If you can't find a relevant post, then perhaps that means I'm not interested in your cause!

A sociological diversion: As history has progressed, the ratio of "effort required to print something" to "effort required to read something" has steadily decreased. This has made text inherently less valuable. Before the printing press, I probably would have read any bit of text I came upon, because I would have known that someone went to the effort to write it out by hand and thus it must be very important. One should read it almost as a sign of respect to the effort one put into creating it. Once the printing press was invented, it became possible to mass produce text, and spam (i.e. text that is only of interest to a tiny fraction of the people who read it) became economically viable. So I might not want to read just any pamphlet I happen to stumble upon, because I know that the effort required to print that particular copy may be significantly less than the effort I must spend to read it. And why should I invest more time in whatever the subject is than the author/printer has?

Now with e-mail, it is possible to attempt to jam a piece of text under my nose for almost nothing. So my skepticism must increase dramatically and the "default courtesy" I extend to any unknown sender must be very low indeed if I'm ever going to plow through my inbox. That's why I like people coming to my blog and commenting: I know they had to go to at least a small amount of human effort to do so, so they start off several rungs up from an unsolicited e-mail.


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