June 02, 2004

Just An Observation, Not a Value Judgment

Reading the Professor this morning, I began to wonder if Amazon.com is the Wal-Mart of the Internet, putting small mom and pop cyber-operations out of business because of their nefarious ability to exploit economies of scale combined with their ruthless efficiency? Is Amazon.com destroying burgeoning, healthy on-line communities by offering so much under one URL that small proprietors cannot compete? How fair is it that the global corporate interests that run Amazon.com have an on-line database that can be mined for my preferences, offering them a competitive advantage over stuggling, middle class Internet entrepeneurs who are only trying to feed their families? And what's with the personal greetings and suggestions Amazon.com offers me every time I enter their site? It's almost as if some blue-smock wearing Medicare recipient was trying to cheer me up as I cross their portal. Incidentally, the faceless machines of Amazon.com will be putting even the blue-smock wearing greeters of Wal-Mart out on the keisters soon if their hegemonic capitalist thrust isn't stopped soon! How are we supposed to think globally and act locally if all our commerce is conducted without respect to geography? The Internet was supposed to break down the walls of time and distance to give us the global village so many have dreamt of for so long, though the multinationals are exploiting its power to crush the enterprising spirit of the great unwashed masses. Maybe Jeff Bezos thinks he has to destroy the global village in order to save it.

(By this time, I am talking very fast and quite loudly, gesturing wildly as my body starts spinning and rotating with changes to pitch, roll and yaw all accelerating until I have disappeared behind a counter, a la John Belushi on an SNL Weekly Update rant so many years ago.)

Posted by Charles Austin at June 2, 2004 10:32 AM

It's not just Amazon. It's Lands End, L.L. Bean, .... The latter started with catalogs in the mail and phone-in ordering, but their websites are slick as can be for e-commerce.

It's not a big percentage, and probably never will be, but take away 5-10% from a walk-in store and that store will be hurt hard.

Posted by: old maltese at 04:06 PM