Predictions & Prescience

We've talked a lot in class about theorists who were surprisingly prescient, and whose ideas continue to be developed successfully. But I it's also interesting to think about times when we can be too eager to jump into future technologies, and run the risk of incorrectly predicting how they will be used. A lot of our talks about the early days of computers reminds me of a story about a family friend. At the start of the computing revolution, when businesses we just beginning to see the benefits of using computers, he predicted (and correctly) that soon everyone would need access to a computer. Unfortunately, he didn't forsee the rise of the personal computer, and instead decided to sink several tens of thousands of dollars into buying many of those large computers we hear so much about - the ones that take up nearly a whole room. He thought that he could charge people to use his machines. Well obviously his idea didn't pan out. Computers became increasingly affordable, and his were quickly obsolete. Now if he'd just taken that money and invested it in Microsoft... but anway, it really shows how there's a backside in adopting new technologies too quickly. In our readings we've encountered a lot of different anxieties about the advent of computing technology and the web and hypertext, etc. But I'm not sure if there's really been a reading that deals with the economic ramifications. Even the pieces we've read about the death of the book only briefly touch upon what it means for the publishing industry itself. I know this class isn't really focusing on the economics of new media, but it's still something important, I think. If any of us want to go into the media after graduation, an unerstanding of the financial viability and possibilities of the technology is vital.

People who are the first to adopt new technology have the inherent risk of going big or going broke, its a Texan outlook on life. The risk of being the first to do something is so big that only a very limited percentage of the population is willing to make that jump early on.

The economic ramifications have effected basically everyone. The ease at which we can now order things on Amazon can save huge amounts of time and effort. Ebay allows people to get rid of their junk much easier than ever before. However, the biggest beneficiaries are small business that could not reach people in California from their home base in New York City. Now, with web pages, people in Hong Kong can do business with some random kid in Indiana.

Not only has physical business improved because of the computer revolution, but information based business. Google being a perfect example of a company that benefited from being able to deliver information, the right web page, to users within milliseconds. There will always be causalities of new technology, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

"the biggest beneficiaries are small business that could not reach people in California from their home base in New York City."

hmmm...only if they adapt and are VERY lucky. Some of the historic San Francisco bookstores that were the pads of the beat movement are being driven out of business by Amazon, etc. This would lead me to think that no, small business are not the biggest beneficiaries. There are certainly some success stories, but the big names in e-business did not orifinate as Mom & Pop shops.

I could not have started my company, OreoRun, without the internet. Something as simple as taking orders 24 hours a day could never be done without the use of our website. I could even obtain the same checkout process as Amazon or Ebay if I really wanted too. The playing field has been leveled in so many different ways.

With regards to the mom and pops that are driven out of business, its a shame that staples of community have to pick up and leave, but unless they can adjust to the change in times they don't have a choice. Amazon had a better plan of business for the new technology. However, those books store could easily put their books up for sale online and avoid the sales tax issues that the article refers too. They simply did not adjust and were forced out of the market. The people buying the books probably didn't mind that they could get them easier and cheaper by using Amazon, which began as a startup just like a mom and pop.

"Madan, 41, calls bookstore owners "reluctant capitalists," saying they're suffering because they haven't innovated. His plan: "Create the store for the 21st century." He's full of plans for improving the Booksmith's Web site, tying the store more firmly to the Haight-Ashbury community, doing more events - making it both inescapable and irresistible for those who live in the neighborhood."
-Venerable Old Bookstores Shutting Their Doors, at the very end