Space Ramblings

The Postmodern Casino

It’s hard to underestimate the technological brilliance of eBay, a company that dominates its field and cows legislators, while getting virtually no praise for it. But eBay remains the invisible giant, present but not discussed. Even Meg Whitman’s prospective run for Governor of California hasn’t changed that much. Companies like Google, Amazon and even Microsoft court the spotlight. Smaller dot.coms thrive on a splurge of constant press releases. But despite being a major brand name, as well as owning two other internet mainstays, PayPal and Skype, little is said about eBay. But use eBay a few times and you’ll realize that its brilliance is in being a worldwide casino that flouts regulations and sucks in people’s money. A minor case in point, some time ago eBay sent me a coupon for X percent off to urge me to come back to them. I complied. All through the bidding process, the coupon kept popping up on my screen telling me how much I would save if I only used it. Once I made the purchase though (or in eBayesque “won”), suddenly the coupon was gone and wouldn’t even pop up on other items. It took digging through my messages to find it again. Small, subtle, understated and yet a brilliant way of fleecing the sheep.

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