4 The facilities of the internet used to support e-commerce and e-business systems

4.5 Mailing lists

Mailing lists are groups of users who have some interest in common, for example they may all be network professionals. Such a list is used by organisations or individuals to inform the members of topics of interest to them. For example, my local cinema has a mailing list of cinema goers who have bought season tickets. It emails everyone on the list with the titles of those films which are to be shown in the coming week and notifies them of any special ticket offers. While there are many uses for mailing lists within companies there are also plenty of uses in e-commerce. For example, a mailing list can be used to inform current customers of any new products or services that are being offered. Most mailing lists are automatically maintained by specialised software. Such software allows someone to subscribe to a mailing list or drop out of a mailing list by just sending a simple email message to the software; for example, often all that is needed to subscribe to a mailing list is a single line email containing the message

This will result in the user who sent the email being added to the list of users associated with the mailing list.

Kelly's Rules

This unit is about the technical processes that are involved in the development of e-commerce and e-business systems. However, it is worth saying in passing that e-commerce and e-business applications seem to be radically changing the face of business. Probably the best chronicler of these changes is Kevin Kelly, one of the founders of Wired magazine. His most infiuential work is New Rules for the New Economy published by Fourth Estate. In this book he shows how e-commerce and e-business have overturned many of the conventional laws and rules about business. For example, he shows how companies can make huge profits by giving away free products, such as operating systems and browsers, with the profit being made from hardware, support software and services.