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Unintended consequences of technology

photo by clemson

What exactly are you getting with eBay?
- photo credit: clemson @ flickr

The problem with not blogging in a while (I had the worst flu of my life (in no way pork/swine/H1N1 related)) is the increasing pressure that when you come back you must write something of importance. I have no idea why this is, because if the actual act of blogging has taught me anything it’s that it tends to work best when I just throw things at the wall… (case in point that if my writing on copyright issues was nearly as popular as writing on how to get NHL game radio on iphones, I’d be a “noted media analyst” or something… that’s a metric-based title, right?).

So here’s something trivial – but utterly fascinating (I know this to be true because both times I’ve brought this up in conversation some stranger has butted into the conversation – apologized for overhearing – and asked for more information on specifics). Your mileage may vary.

Forging Ahead is Charles Stanish’s great article for the journal “Archaeology” which details how eBay has actually ruined the market for looted antiquities (and depressed the market for actual antiquities) by flooding the world with forgeries. It’s a fascinating read into how the digital age is having unintended consequences on very, very, disparate industries. Who’d have thought forgeries could protect against looting? Even more interesting is the extrapolations of how the lives of the (often poor, often local) individuals previously driven to antique looting are much improved through forgery instead (the short version is that much more money is kept at the grass roots level in trading in forgeries, as opposed to the comparative high risk and low return of smuggling).

I’ve been thinking about aspects of this a lot lately – not forgery, but unintended industry change brought on by the maturing internet – likely because of the recent (excellent) bi-annual Toronto Comic Art Festival. This is partly because I got the chance to meet a number of creators whom I adore, but whose work is also so “niche” that they likely wouldn’t have had a sustainable audience for their work even a few years ago. It’s also partly because of a chance encounter with someone from the comics field who I’ve never been able to thank properly for completely changing my approach to film (More on that another day).

(I have no idea who to H/T for directing me to the Stanish article – most likely one of those little “niche” publications Wired / Ars / or Slashdot).

  • Your Mother

    You misspelled”consequences”

  • You see… WordPress doesn’t spell-check post titles… and…

    You’re going to make me write it out 20 times when I come home for Christmas, aren’t you?

    Ah well. At least you missed the several grammar mistakes, the fragment sentence, the mismatched clause, and the non-onomatopoeia use of the word “thunk”.