There’s a bias in favour of automation on the interwebs. Of letting the crowd sort it out. This works in some limited capacities just fine, and we can all sort of enjoy the Clay Shikyness of it all. But there are times it can really bite. For a case in point, see this Guardian article showing what can happen when you turn too much over to customer control. Some company made a web script that allowed people to edit a T-shirt message, and then sell it through Amazon. They were all plays on that now much tired WWII message, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Some ass clown edited it to say “Keep Calm and Rape Them” and then continued to make his little online shop for his shirt. The script instantly made the shop using Amazon’s system, meaning you could find it through Amazon.
Then the crowd editing took over: An individual found the offending shirt, forwarded it on to an organisation who took issue with Amazon, which then removed the shirt from its website (why the middle org was needed, I’m not sure). Then the news media decided it was worth a story after everything was sorted out. What bothered people most, though, was that Amazon allowed it to be published on its website first, instead of moderating it before hand. Implementing this process is possible, it would simply either require thousands moderators to approve each of the millions of things that get posted on Amazon on a daily basis, or slow down the rate at which new items could be made for sale on Amazon.I’ve got no problem with either, really, because I’m not writing this in defence of Amazon, or the company that automated making silly things to buy there. But this is really about our own equally silly demands that we should be able to buy anything we want simply because we can.
The system would work better for some than others; Obviously large corporations would get a pass on moderation because they can build in systems to handle pre-approving things more easily. Less-vetted small and independent businesses would suffer the brunt of this process More of them would have to use different services (or make their own) to speed up their ability to sell things online, and you’d have to shop outside of Amazon to find them, meaning you’d have to do more work to buy their stuff. In the end, we could have these things if people would just get over the hyper-consumerist mentality of thinking they deserve to have things things as soon as they want them simply because they’re able to pay for them now.
Is this going to happen, or are we going to keep calm, and carry on?