Friday, September 29, 2006

Amazon.com, "long tail" economy, time travel and aliens from Alpha Centauri



In an article posted on the Financial Times site, author James Boyle delivers a humorous commentary on the realities of the "long tail" economy. First, a brief explanation of the term:
"The academic in me has been very interested by the much hyped arrival of the “long tail” economy – the idea that the future lies in using the efficiency of the internet to sell smaller quantities of more goods (think of the astounding range of books on Amazon.com). One optimistic image is that thousands of small producers and entrepreneurs worldwide will be able to bypass the need for large chunks of capital and complex distribution schemes."
He then goes on to describe his experence as a book seller on Amazon.com:
I sometimes imagined the Amazon customer service folk borrowing the Tardis to deliver apologies for their incredibly rare mistakes before they even happened. But that was as a purchaser. As a vendor I entered into a shadowy different universe...

The problem with their representatives is not that their native language is not English, it is that their native planet is not Earth. Only that could explain the strange delays of weeks in replying to emails, the apparent time distortions that will suddenly lead them to re-enter a months-long dispute in the middle, and the curiously non-terrestrial logic of their replies...

Ezra W. and Mansoor, the earth names that our customer service reps use, just ceased replying at all at that point – being replaced by an automated response. That happens a lot. And as for the “search inside the book” people, it’s a tragedy. They have disappeared altogether. Perhaps a star portal went out.
If you're interested in the network economy, the long tail economy or The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything you'll enjoy this article.

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