Subject: Re: a mechanism for getting paid for support
From: (E. Dean Tribble)
Date: Sun, 15 Jan 1995 12:21:41 -0800

Thank you for your response.  Note that perhaps the biggest difference is
that the AMIX service is no longer available :-)

>Well, let's take them one at a time:
>1) Automated support for contract resolution:  I really don't know what
>you mean by this, because we have a standard terms & conditions
>document, no contracts required.  (Do you sign a contract each time you
>go to the store?)

AMIX sold a combination of information services and documents.  It's model
was to make a market that included consultants who could respond to
requests for help and who could post documents to sell.  Often these
requests for help would result in a new document for sale so that a request
could be satisfied once for all comers.  Buying and selling documents was
straightforward, and your bill/payment would come itemized once a month or
was always available on line.  Consulting services were supported by an
automated contracting mechanism.  You could send 'mail' that had money and
terms attached, such that the terms could be negotiated or agreed to in a
*very* lightweight fashion, and a contract could be agreed to easily on
line.  Some examples: a request to Mitch Kapor to review a business plan
with $100 to be payed on delivery of his comments; a request to the
Smalltalk market for some programming environment improvement, for $300 on

Agreements could be made in which money was transferred at agreement time,
delivery time, and/or acceptance time.  The transfer was automatic
(acceptance was automatic after some time, though you accept or reject a
delivery explicitly).

>2)  Arbitration service:  We inherit the dispute resolution process for
>credit cards, since they're the underlying payment scheme, but we layer
>on some additional buyer protection because we allow ANYONE to be a
>seller, without going through the Visa/MC merchant approval process.

A good idea for delivery of documents, though I think it is heavier weight
than AMIX wanted to support.  In any case, most of the dispute resolution
was motivated by resolving disputes in the consulting agreements (these are
typically very rare, but the mechanism needs to exist).  Dispute resolution
was also for reputation management, though both contract disputes and
reputation disputes were (and would likely remain) extremely rare.

>If you're worried about the security of credit card numbers, you don't
>understand how the system works -- the numbers never appear on any
>Internet machine, either in clear text OR encrypted.  How much safer can
>you get? 

Yes you are right, I was thinking of something else.  I do have security
concerns over the payment mechanism, but most of them have to do with the
lack of anonymity (which almost all proposed systems suffer from).