"Commercialism"

Marty Bigos BIGOS at Darwin.Stanford.EDU
Fri Apr 7 12:39:45 EST 1995


I'd like to add my few cents to the discussion of openly commercial
participation on the flow discussion group. 

First, I think that one needs to distinguish between participation and
sponsorship. As long as the Internet is subsidized, those that run this group
from Purdue exercise effective control. So if a company doesn't like what is
said about their product, they have no immediate recourse except to defend it
publicly - they can't threaten (explicitly or implicitly) to withdraw
funding, something which happens all the time on "commercial" media.
However, if the funding status of the Internet changes, then these
considerations could become more relevant. 

Second, I think we need to distinguish between the passive roles we are forced 
to play by commercial media, and the active roles that are possible in this 
discussion group. If a commercial company makes a claim that one thinks is 
outrageous or doesn't match their experience, it is quite easy to post those 
concerns. If the claims cannot be backed up by suitable data, then I think the 
message will be clear to all who follow this discussion group. In fact, I would 
imagine that the marketing folks would be very careful as to what is claimed on 
this group for that very reason - they would be in a media where there would be 
direct feedback and questioning. Loss of control of their own marketing 
strategy would not be a good thing for a company. However, this would depend on 
the participants in this group not being passive but having a skeptical and 
inquisitive attitude, something which we in the sciences should have anyway.

Thirdly, I think such participation would lead to further discussion on
specific instrument design, and how instruments are benchmarked, topics of
interest to me and probably other participants in this group. And lastly, I
would appreciate having access to the claims and experiences with
instrumentation that I have AND don't have, as an easy way of keeping current
with the field. 

Of course there are questions of netiquette, such as labeling product 
announcements as such, so participants can skip them if so desired. However, I 
have confidence that such things would not be problematical.

-Marty Bigos
Stanford Shared FACS Facility





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