Here’s a half-baked thought inspired by a comment Marc Andreessen made on app.net:
The idea: a service where you can receive emails limited to a certain size (say, 500 characters). People would know that if Joe’s address is email@example.com, he would only see the first 500 characters of whatever you send. If your email to Joe exceeds the length, you’d get a message back saying:
“Joe is using service X, which rejects emails longer than 500 characters. It also rejects mails with attachments or links. Your original message will not be delivered, but if you compose one that fits those requirements, he will receive it.”
Maybe Joe could tweak some of these requirements. He may want only 300-character emails, and he might accept links. No attachments, though.
Taking it one step further, busy people like Marc could add a price to the mix: you cannot reach him unless you prepay an amount he picks (say, $20). It’s not that he cares about the money; this ensure you’re serious, and he could choose not to cash it after reading your email. He could also experiment with this price until he finds the right level. The “pay to email me” concept is not a new idea by the way. I remember reading something Bill Gates wrote a long time ago to that effect, as a possible solution for spam.
Once again, this is a 30-second idea with no serious though behind it. Don’t rip me a new one!