Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Whimsley: a new addition to my bloglist

I came across a new-to-me blog today, via Nicholas Carr. I enjoyed the post on Mr. Google's Guidebook and a few others, so I added Whimsley to my bloglist.

I'd like to see a bloglist that could mix a random sample of old posts with a current feed (probably could do this with Yahoo Pipes), there's so much past material here that would be new to me. I did go to the very first post. The blog has survived the book mentioned below, but the original theme has persisted ...

Whimsley, Nov 2005:

This blog is a shameless attempt at promoting my forthcoming book, "No One Makes You Shop At Wal-Mart", which the fine people at Between the Lines are publishing next spring.

The book is an argument against a certain kind of thinking -- a very common way of thinking I call MarketThink. MarketThink is the belief that (in the absence of government action) the world really does work according to the rules of the idealized free-market. MarketThink is the claim that, as long as we can exercise individual choices, the invisible hand of the free market guarantees that we get what we want.

The title of the book comes from one particular phrasing of that claim. Wal-Mart has commonly been criticised for the damage its edge-of-town stores do to city centres. In response to these criticisms, one of the arguments that Wal-Mart's supporters make is that "no one makes you shop at Wal-Mart", and that if people really felt that Wal-Mart was bad for their cities, they would not patronize it.

An example of this kind of thinking comes from Ron Galloway, director of the new film "Why Wal-Mart Works & Why That Makes Some People Crazy", who said on CNN's Showbiz Tonight on October 31 that "138 million people vote with their feet to go to Wal-Mart. And Americans are pretty smart. And I think Wal-Mart, if Wal-Mart were really doing something genuinely wrong, the American people would be able to figure it out and not go."

What is wrong and why? Well, that's what this blog is about.

MarketThink has at least a nodding connection to the "folly of crowds", but I'm guessing he also discusses market failures, premature local minima traps. I wonder if he discusses future shock and fraud, and how they mislead the crowd.

I'm sure I'll have some more comments over time ...

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