12 December, 2008

Simple idea, BIG implications

Just watch the video from http://www.carrotmob.org/

Carrotmob Makes It Rain from carrotmob on Vimeo.


Cassady said...

Market forces at work! Albeit artificially amplified market forces...

I really like the implications behind this clip and the effort, but I'm not sure it's entirely realistic.

Sure, in this limited and localized experiment, they were able to influence the system, but in order to do that, a vast number of people had to be willing to give up the convenience that is otherwise an important determining factor in people's purchasing habits.

I think this worked well for them largely because of the type of person that was willing to participate. Younger, passionate, largely idealistic. That's not a bad thing by any means, but I think this worked out largely because these people were willing to abandon their normal habits and practices--and probably travel considerably out of their way--in order to prove a point.

That point was well made, but I'm afraid I don't see this happening anytime soon on the large, national scale short of actual legislation.

spencer said...

Like Cassady, I am heartened by this project, but also somewhat skeptical that this can be scaled to affect larger corporations over a longer period of time.

From a sociological point of view, it's interesting how collective action is shifting from labor markets to consumer markets. Unionization rates are way down from a half-century ago, but now there's local food, Kick Coke, and fair trade coffee.

But how far will it go? There are a lot of reasons why consumers are far more difficult to organize than labor. They are spread across geographical areas; each consumption decision is usually an insignificant of consumers' overall budget; and so forth. The biggest reason is that labor unions provided something tangible for their workers: higher wages. Collective environmental consumer movements can only provide tiny benefits that are distributed across billions of people, far into the future.

For that reason, I think it's important to realize that real, climate-change-stopping, global-warming-reversing, Bangladesh-saving power is wielded basically by two entities: the United States federal government and the People's Republic of China. Anything short of coordinated emissions reductions by these two entities just isn't going to do very much.