Thursday, February 02, 2006
Capital vs Labour vs Capital
This is a great article challenging the idea that Craigslist is a good thing:
"...How, exactly, does a San Francisco outfit moving into, say, Burlington, Vt. and threatening to eviscerate the local alternative newspaper, help build community? If he's such an altruist, why does he have to keep expanding like a typical predatory chain? We all get the need for online ads and community sites now; why not let the folks in Burlington (or wherever) build their own? Why not (gasp) help them, instead of using his clout to hurt them?
This isn't such a radical idea. Check out the blog world, where the best political bloggers don't try to corner the market � they encourage others to start their own blogs.
Craig's answer: I only go where people want me."
Why is this so important? It's a massive market gap. It's like a neon sign pointing to what Craiglist is doing wrong.
Plenty of people have talked about how this guy's article is wrong - Craig keeps more money in the community, by freeing capital for higher value uses than classifieds.
Now, I'm not sure I agree with that (how much of that goes to Starbucks or Wal-Mart?) - but forget about that for now.
The point is that Craigslist, like it or not, does erode a community's social capital - and that's a very real kind of capital we have to factor in. And there ain't very much in the US to begin with. That is a huge market gap.
Exactly how does one choosing Craiglist over an Amazon or an Ebay reduce "community social capital"?
Craigslist adds community social capital by letting me exchange goods with local neighbors as opposed to distant merchants.
Anil Dash has a good response.
Hi J Bryan,
The choice is not vs Amazon/eBay - it's vs your...real community.
Exchanging goods != social capital. In fact, it's the opposite...
Thx for the link. I read Anil's argument, and it's a good one, but I disagree - I don't see how Craigslist makes you "neighbours" in any meaningful sense.
If anything, to discuss one dimension of social capital, it increases anonymity etc - I know my neighbours less because of CL.
The bigger picture is that social capital is about connections - not transactions. Which does CL enable?
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