J.D. Falk was one of the first names I encountered when learning how to read headers and report spam back in the mid-90s. He was one of the folks leading the fight against spam and actively trying to improve the Internet. When I was hired by MAPS I got to work with J.D. and a number of other big-names. One of the things that really surprised me was that this “internet elder” I had imagined was younger than me and with much bluer hair.
After MAPS imploded, J.D. and I carved out separate careers. He went to work at a number of major mailbox providers and I started delivery consulting. Our paths crossed occasionally, usually at conferences, but we also were on a number of mailing lists together. I kept an eye on J.D and his impact on email delivery. In fact, J.D. was responsible for a lot of the modern anti-spam techniques implemented at ISPs.
Eventually, he moved to Return Path where he worked on their Receiver Support group; even as he continually argued against the false sender / receiver dichotomy that so many people endorse.
M3AAWG, with financial support from Return Path, created the J.D. Falk award to recognize people who work to create a better online world. Nominations for the 3rd annual J.D. Falk award are now open. The M3AAWG website has more details.
M3AAWG wants to recognize cool work that reduces online abuse and improves the Internet.
The recipient must also embody the spirit of J.D.’s volunteerism and community building. The J.D. Falk Award winners have a vigilant eye on the broader perspective of Internet systems and communities and call upon thoughtful humor when things get tough.
I am proud to have known J.D. and to have worked with him. And he still manages to touch my life, through the friends he brought into my circle and the communities he created.