What’s not to like about one-stop online shopping? The only thing you might have to worry about is that in the future you will not have any shopping centers, strip malls or corner stores where “everybody knows your name.” Gone will be the “social network” of shopping that involves interacting with real people in real time and space (bricks and mortar). From some economists and business experts, there is a growing concern that Amazon’s tremendous growth and market dominance could increasingly stifle competition and erode jobs. This is the real threat that Amazon poses as viewed by business researchers and analysts.
“To consumers whose seeming every wish can be fulfilled by the more than 400 million products available for sale on the site, its scope can seem enormous. Amazon sells 52% of all books (print, electronic and audio) in the United States. Forty-three percent of all online commerce goes through Amazon. It’s got 45% of the cloud computing market, meaning it’s the single largest provider of infrastructure that runs thousands of popular websites. It’s not in banking and insurance, though analysts say that wouldn’t be a stretch.” Consumers enjoy low prices, while suppliers get squeezed.
And you always thought that people with their heads in the clouds were out of touch. Seems like that might be a good place to be these days if you are in business.
Well, not really, but things got very confusing in Europe when they tried to regulate what Google could do, and not do, with respect to protecting their citizens’ privacy in the European Union. I’ll try to explain it as best I can from one American’s perspective. Here we go: the European Court of Justice does not require that companies make their decision-making process open to public scrutiny. People must make privacy requests that relate to online information, like personal circumstances or past criminal convictions, that is no longer relevant or not in the public interest (definitions that privacy lawyers say are inherently fuzzy). Well, I am glad that I helped clear that up, and I am sure that most privacy lawyers in Europe are also happy that they can continue to help wealthy clients in trying to understand what this all means. Let’s chalk one up for Google, at least for now.
On another related note, how about that U.S.Supreme Court declining to hear the Authore Guild challenge to Google Books? In effect, the Court refused to review a challenge to Google’s digital library of millions of books, turning down an appeal from the authors who said that the project amounted to copyright infringement on a mass scale. So go ahead, just Google it! I am not sure there is anyone to stop you?
Thank you readers for you patience over the past week. I have been enjoying some time with family over these beautiful spring days in New England. Not quite spring-like temperature yet, but those hardy souls really seem to get excited when the temperature cracks 50 degrees Farenheit.
I know I have written about the public library’s future before, but it seems as if the battle lines are more clearly being drawn. It may not be so much about how you access information but, I believe, what kind of reader or learner you may be. One county library director in the U.S. sees the libraries of today as being in the “connection” business: connecting you to everything you need. Very helpful, I’m sure, but this sounds more like a retail approach to library services. Whatever happened to “browsing?”
Not so much time for that anymore, I guess. And the availability of going to the library online may be very appealing to all those who like to go shopping online anyway. Maybe it’s all inevitable. We can all be connected to only those things we want and/or think we need. The library seems to be moving to better customer service, thanks to our faster, streamlined digital word.
How about reading or learning about things that take us to a different “place,” or helps us experience something that we have discovered or found on our own! It may not always be about being connected to only those things we find entertaining?