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The Two Faces of Open Source: ECT News Roundtable, Episode 5

The open source software movement has evolved dramatically over the past two decades. Many businesses that once considered open source a threat now recognize its value. In spite of increased enthusiasm among enterprises, consumer interest by and large has not materialized. With large companies incre...

Cosmos: Possible Worlds – A Lavish, Hopeful Journey

When we watch a work of fiction, we enter an understanding with its makers. We agree to suspend our disbelief, and they agree to entertain us. If it's a particularly good work, perhaps it inspires us by communicating some kernel of wisdom about human nature. Its story may touch our emotions deeply, ...

CUSTOMER SERVICE BREAKDOWN

Shield Healthcare: Serving the Poor, Poorly

Sometimes when you tug on the thread of a small customer service failure, you unravel a big skein of much knottier problems. That happened when Shield Healthcare didn't send "Great Aunt Nelly" her shipment of medical supplies on time. There are many people like Nelly in the U.S. -- elderly and disab...

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

PriceWaiter CEO Stephen Culp: ‘Negotiation Has Been Around Forever Because It Works’

Fledgling e-commerce company PriceWaiter aims to save customers money, time and energy by negotiating better-than-Amazon deals on top-rated products -- simply, quickly and privately. PriceWaiter's pitch to sellers is that it can help move inventory, maintain more margin, and make MAP moot, resulting...

OPINION

US Mobile: Another Bait-and-Switch Disappointment

I just dumped US Mobile after less than four months, setting a new speed record for hitting my tolerance-for-b.s. ceiling. I'd had high hopes for this relatively new MVNO, but it turns out I chose poorly. Switching wireless service providers is one of those things I don't relish doing, but every few...

CUSTOMER SERVICE BREAKDOWN

Resist: Don’t Sign That AT&T Contract

This is a call for resistance that has nothing to do with politics. It's coming from someone who unwittingly walked into a virtual jail cell that was disguised as a DirecTV contract. I'll be behind bars for another 23 months, and I'm counting the days. Please don't take this as a rant or as an attem...

E-Commerce 2000: Dredging Up the Positive

The dot-com shakeout is not the big e-commerce news of 2000. It should surprise no one that a raft of new companies that pinned all their hopes on a flawed business model were doomed to fail. The headline of the year is this: "The People Bought E-Commerce." They like it. They really do. In spit...

Napster’s Candle in the Dark

There's something slightly disappointing about Shawn Fanning's decision to go legit with Napster, but it's not exactly the same as David making nice with Goliath or Luke Skywalker going over to the Dark Side.

Faith in E-Commerce (Cont.)

While ChurchPlaza started offline and moved to the Web, the WorldWide JudaicaStore began as a pure-play and looks toward a brick-and-click future. The site launched in 1998 "to fulfill the ever-growing demand for Judaica in Jewish communities that do not have access to a local Judaica store," the co...

Faith in E-Commerce

Religion may rival sex and politics as a taboo subject for dinner table conversations, but mentioning money and religion in the same breath can cause even more squirming. Nevertheless, the relationship between church and cash is an inescapable issue for both the tiny house of worship that survives o...

Where Is the Web’s Holiday Spirit?

If e-commerce fails to capture whopping holiday sales this year, it is going to be for lack of imagination. Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have always known that people want much more out of the holiday season than the opportunity to get a bargain, and they have made the creation of aestheti...

Analysts Fuzzy on B2B’s Future

One of the fundamental rules of e-commerce is that for every dire prediction, there is an equal and opposite upbeat outlook, and vice versa. So it was a high mark of distinction -- for a while -- that not since consumers began flocking to the Web had a phenomenon been reported with as much consisten...

Out on a Limb with M-Commerce (Cont.)

Concern over health complications due to radiation emissions from cell phone handsets has also dampened enthusiasm for expanding their use. Last June, the World Health Organization called for further testing to assess the potential risk.

Out on a Limb with M-Commerce

"Consumers don't think they want the wireless Web yet, but they will." So said Forrester analyst Patrick Callinan, explaining his firm's recent conclusion that there is "latent demand" for Internet-enabled mobile phones in the United States.

Is E-Commerce Un-American?

A free Internet. It has taken the United States over 200 years and counting to interpret the rights of its citizens, but we're supposed to accept the Web's one inalienable principle at face value. Anyone who betrays it should be condemned for committing technological treason. But my guess is that fr...

U.S. Security Scare: Dumb and Dumber

Everyone must be stupid. That's the only conclusion possible in light of the recent report released by the General Accounting Office (GAO) on the lamentable state of U.S. government Web site security.

What Now for Dot-Com IPOs?

The shakeout shark may not be finished gobbling up little dot-coms just yet, but for reasonably cautious investors, the news is good: It's safe to go back into the water.

Big Bezos Is Watching You

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos seems to be gambling that when it comes to Internet privacy, honesty and ignorance may be a winning combination. Ever since George Washington felled the cherry tree, Americans have embraced the peculiar notion that being up front about one's evildoing diminishes the wrong. If o...

Ireland’s High-Tech Jig

In the 1980s, Irish citizens were leaving the country in droves. The economy was in miserable shape and the country's spirit was sagging. Isolationism and intransigence over bitterly divisive internal issues contributed to a national malaise.

Have You Hugged a Hacker Today?

The Information Age is killing critical thinking. The steady barrage of more facts and figures than any human mind can digest results in absurdly swift processing with little or no reflection, much less complex deliberation. The ever increasing pressure to rush to judgment can lead to strangely coun...

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