Culture Making is now archived. Enjoy five years of reflections on culture worth celebrating.
For more about the book and Andy Crouch, please visit

Posts tagged commerce

from "Online shopping and the Harry Potter effect," by Richard Webb, New Scientist, 22 December 2008

So why, with the cornucopia of goodies now available to us, are blockbusters not just still here, but getting bigger? On the face of it, Anderson’s idea of a divergence of tastes in the digital era is logical. But if the long tail effect does not exist, or is not as pronounced as was thought, what is really going on?

Elberse says it’s a bit like the influence of multichannel television on the economics of sport. In the old days, if you wanted to watch soccer, you went to watch your local team in the flesh. Now, she says, in the UK you are more likely to decide to stay at home and watch Chelsea play Arsenal. This change of allegiance cuts the cash flowing into the ticket office of your local club while boosting advertising revenues for TV, which accrue disproportionately in favour of the already wealthy top clubs.

It is a phenomenon known to economists as the Matthew effect, after a quotation from the gospel of that name: “For unto every one that hath shall be given.” Just as for the long tail effect, there is a plausible explanation of why it should be happening in the modern media environment: easy digital replication and efficient communication through cellphones, email and social networking sites encourage fast-moving, fast-changing fads. The result is a homogenisation of tastes that boosts the chances of popular things becoming blockbusters, making the already successful even more successful.

from "For Sale: 200,000-Square-Foot Box," photo and text by Julia Christensen, Slate, 19 November 2008 :: via GOOD/blog

The challenges of repurposing big-box stores are not limited to dealing with their unwieldy size. Often, the real estate can be tied up in complicated arrangements. The potential buyer of a big-box store might encounter any number of stipulations on what the building, parking lot, and land can be used for in the future. These stipulations can make it difficult for other businesses to move into an abandoned big-box—but they also open up such spaces for more creative use. The Calvary Chapel in Pinellas Park, Fla., purchased an abandoned Wal-Mart building across the street from its previous home. The deed specified that the structure could not be used by one of Wal-Mart’s various competitors for several decades. But for the moment, at least, churches aren’t on that list. Many former big-box stores have been reclaimed by civic institutions—a library, a courthouse—and by churches. Before moving into this old Wal-Mart, the Calvary Chapel had made its home in an abandoned Winn-Dixie grocery store across the highway.