opinions, everybody's got one...
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Copyright or Mousetrap?
Who would have suspected 60 or 70 years ago that Mickey Mouse would be a key figure in legal battles over copyright?
In the 1970s, a group of underground comic artists tried to use Mickey's image to make some points about society. A book about that struggle looks pretty interesting. A review of it is in the Village Voice. See: Mouse Trap by R.C. Baker
17 Million Gallons of Oil under NYC
We're about to see a lawsuit filed sometime within the next month or so to get Exxon to clean up an oil spill that dumped an estimated six million more gallons of oil than the Exxon Valdez.
It's been starting to seep into New York City's habor. The spill probably happened in the late forties. The Village Voice discuss it in The Other Black Sea
Sharing is good
Or at least it isn't the cause of the decline of CD sales according to a recently released study (pdf) from Harvard Business School and UNC Chapel Hill.
What brings you to a Museum?
Given the popularity of shows on television such as the Antique Roadshow, I would imagine that Delaware's Museums would be doing very well indeed. Especially Winterthur, which specializes in American Decorative arts. But, the Wilmington News Journal has an article on our Historical treasures struggling. I'm thinking that they have no idea who they want to attract, and how to get them to visit.
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
critical consumer mass
Living in a small state has its advantages and its disadvantages. One of the shortcomings is that we don't always have the variety of consumer choices that someone living in a large city such as New York or Philadelphia might have.
True, those cities are between an hour to three hours away from most folks who live in Delaware. Baltimore and the District of Columbia aren't too far south either. But, I'm talking about stores in Delaware itself. The local grocery, or even the local package store.
The World Wide Web is enabling us to purchase things that we might otherwise not be able to find. A friend recently suggested a CD by a local band. Local to him, in New Zealand. I couldn't find it at any of the five Delaware music stores I visited, but it took me five minutes to order it online, and two weeks to have it delivered.
One very strong concern in the State is the sale of alcoholic beverages directly to consumers on the web. There's a legitimate fear that minors might purchase those, and circumvent an age verification system such as the showing of a drivers license when buying at a local liquor store. So, do we ban that type of sale competely, or do we find a way to make direct sales to consumers work? The Wilmington News Journal address the issue in an article entitled Delaware decries move to loosen liquor sales.
The article seems to slant towards favoring the "three tier system" that sees alcoholic beverages relying upon the movement of a beverage from manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer, and then to consumer. But, no one seems to be asking how to make direct sales to consumers work. As a consumer living in Delaware, I know how difficult it can be to gain the same freedom of choice in a store as I do on the web. We should be looking for more creative solutions.
One solution that we can't use is credit cards as an age verification system. Teenagers can vote, drive, get drafted, get married, and exercise many other responsibilities under our laws and constitution, but they can't drink until they are twenty-one. One other thing they can do is get a credit card. One of the more frightening quotes in the article didn't have anything to do with underage drinking.
In one test conducted by wholesalers, a 15-year-old with his own credit card reportedly ordered and received tequila, according to the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America.What is a fifteen-year-old doing with a credit card?
This issue is about alcohol, but it's also likely about the regulation of any goods across geographic borders. The web opens many opportunities to us. We have a responsibility to think about them wisely.