Both Al and Mickey have written astute comments on Kevin Sirtz’s article about how permission is not important in web[sic] marketing.
It is pretty clear to me that Mr. Sirtz does not really understand email, and not just because he conflates email with the web. Anyone who has been involved in the email marketing space knows that permission is the lynchpin of good deliverability and high ROI.
This is not to say that Mr. Sirtz is not having the experience he states. With very small lists you can get away with personal relationships substituting for permission. Senders of any size, though, do not have the relationship with their recipients and need to actually send email only to those recipients who have requested to receive email from the sender.