The Marketplace Online

You can see many of the functions of the traditional marketplace online.  It is not possible to take a bath online but you can order a meal and have it delivered.  You can share news, express opinions  and whilst law courts continue in real life, you can express your views about anything.

Let’s not be starry-eyed about this!  Big servers scrape data about our online habits and so offer massive multi-nationals power over local marketplaces.  For example, when a small bookshop advertises a special offer online, Amazon detects it and undercuts their offer.

The challenge to use the Internet to support local economies without handing the local economy over to big business.  We need to help money circulate locally, and not allow corporations to extract it into off-shore tax havens.

Online Content Should Not be Free

This means we need to surrender the delightful habits of these early years online, where content is free.  Free content allows large servers to collect information about us.  They have no obligation to pay us for our information.  And it means it is more difficult for artists to generate income from their work as copyright becomes more difficult to enforce.

Free content is attractive for obvious reasons but ultimately it impoverishes the market place because there is less money circulating and enriches the mega-wealthy elites.  The early vision of the Internet was something independent and open to all users.  For this to work we need to re-discover the principles of the local market place; a place governed by democratic consent, where we are all buyers and sellers.

To do this we need to build relationships and trust locally.  But is this even possible?

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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