[LINK] Grocery Choice - what's the problem?

David Boxall david.boxall at hunterlink.net.au
Wed Jul 1 11:57:22 AEST 2009

On Wed, 1 Jul 2009 at 00:03:02 +1000 Sylvano wrote:
> ... that service is an example of something that exists, which does not 
> require government or legislation - or retailers - to achieve it's aim.
> The consideration of "the option of people uploading info to an online price 
> sharing web site" *is* a compelling one, for that very reason that it's not 
> reliant on government or retailers.
> But there are issues to face, of which there was the one you raised, being 
> astro-turfing. Particularly where "those with deep enough pockets or by 
> skilled memetic engineers" can subvert a crowd-sourced info site.  But I have 
> to admit that I'm not at all clear on how government or legislation would 
> helpful toward stopping that kind of thing. [Net Filters Stop Porn, Net 
> Filters Stop Porn, Net Filters Stop Porn...]
> By comparison, the actions of the users themselves to provide a corrective to 
> the input of "bad data,"  whether in the context of Amazon reviews, wikipedia 
> entries or whatever, is difficult to ignore.
> Anyway, I was thinking more of the kind of issue that David Boxall raised:
>    "People are fickle. They get bored. How long does the crowd continue to 
> provide information? My guess is that the flow of data quickly dwindles to a 
> trickle. Something more substantial and more durable is needed."
> Compared to this challenge, the technical matters and dealing with malevolent 
> forces is relatively simple.

I believe it would be possible to track every item in every store that 
has a database using standard barcode numbers*. It needn't be expensive: 
anyone taking on Coles' putative $8 million per annum contract would 
probably net $7.999 million profit in the first year and $999 more per 
year after that (OK, maybe a slight exaggeration). Costs on the 
receiving side would undoubtedly be higher but worth it, I reckon. 
Unless we do it, we won't know.

Data automatically transmitted from backend databases is not subject to 
outside manipulation and it can be as comprehensive as we want. The only 
probable problems I see are failure to provide and distortion at source, 
which is why I've suggested legislated compulsion and heavy penalties.

The question now is whether we're talking about a core or non-core 
promise. :->

* At the moment, they all do. Legislation might be necessary, to prevent 
deliberate perversion.
David Boxall                    |  When a distinguished but elderly
                                |  scientist states that something is
http://david.boxall.name        |  possible, he is almost certainly
                                |  right. When he states that
                                |  something is impossible, he is
                                |  very probably wrong.
                                                   --Arthur C. Clarke

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