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The Big Answer

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The New Marketplace

an article from The Futurist by Edith Weiner and Arnold Brown

(our site's article review)

This article details the travails of the traditional marketplace. More people are skipping downtown shopping and instead using computers (e-commerce has been skyrocketing since the mid-90s), catalogs, cable TVs and other forums to buy what they need. They’re saving money, time, wear and tear on vehicles, air quality, etc. Consumers have graduated from passive and dumb (like when they got conned by the “thinking man’s filter”—a decades-old cigarette ad aimed at the foolish) to smart and informed and ready to cut out the middleman and make shopping shopper-centered, not store-centered. And they demand reasonable prices.

E-commerce has been skyrocketing since the mid-90s
E-commerce has been skyrocketing since the mid-90s

It's still most convenient to get groceries at a store, but most other items (books, cel phones, electronic devices) are easier—and often cheaper—to but online
It's still most convenient to get groceries at a store, but most other items (books, cel phones, electronic devices) are easier—and often cheaper—to but online

One example of new technology that is giving consumers power over professional priesthoods is the palmtop medical information system. It—along with many other things—validates the 21st century trend towards expert advice or technical knowledge stored in little convenient handheld devices that circumvent bummers like waiting around doctors’ offices to hear them tell you it’s “just a virus” (translation: they don’t know what’s wrong with you). People consult WebMD more than they call doctors. Consumers use online research instead of paying the fees necessary to get expert advice from various other professionals, such as counselors, lawyers, or stockbrokers. Think about the expert life knowledge that many people used to get from counselors and therapists and now often get from online parenting groups, chat rooms, or other special-interest cyber-groups. The trouble with the latter knowledge source is that you get as much bad advice as good—but then the same is true of neighbors.