Everything old is new again

alhambraWe were talking about how everything old is new again in The Internet Course yesterday. E-commerce is a new thing, with a huge economic impact, but it’s also kinda like the 21st century version of the Sears & Roebuck catalog. The parallel with Amazon is interesting. Sears got big by offering a wider selection than could be found at general stores, and by undercutting their prices. You could get almost anything through the catalog. I remember watching Jean Shepherd’s Phantom Of The Open Hearth when I was a kid. There’s a scene where a guy says he bought a house from the catalog  (YT) and needed his friends to help unload from the the train. I thought it was some kind of surrealist joke, but no, you really could buy a mail-order  house. Here’s a copy of their 1921 Honor bilt modern homes catalog. I don’t think Amazon has gotten into the home business yet.

And then this morning one of my co-workers was talking about how she has this whole collection of 45 RPM singles from when she was a teenager. For decades, we used to buy songs in collections, whether on LP or tape or CD, but now iTunes has people shopping one song at a time. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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2 Responses to Everything old is new again

  1. Jim Groom says:

    One of the few interesting moments in season 3 of Boardwalk Empire, that series has lost all momentum, is when one of the characters, Gerorge Mueller, is building his own mail order home on the outskirts of Chicago in the 1920s. A fascinating concept that I wouldn’t be surprised if it came back in some form or another in the future.

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