A story in yesterday's New York Times notes that estimates of the costs imposed by spam are very squishy.
One company, Ferris Research, says the cost is $10 billion in the United States this year. The Radicati Group estimates the worldwide cost at $20.5 billion.
Another firm, Nucleus Research, shoots higher. By its reckoning, the economic cost is $874 a year for every office worker with an e-mail account, which multiplied by 100 million such workers amounts to about $87 billion for the United States.
The estimates seem to assume that a minute spent deleting unwanted e-mail is a minute not spent on productive work. Couldn't it just as easily be a minute not spent chatting with co-workers, shopping online, answering personal e-mail, or, say, reading a blog?