If you have watched some of my videos you may have noticed somewhat of an obsession with eBay. And you would be right.
I do in fact blame a lot of misery of the “P” in P2P in current internet commerce on one company.
To understand this it helps to go back to the beginnings of Internet commerce, at which time (1994), I had a small but prosperous business with a static website that I updated daily manually. Before someone thinks “drugs” I am saying “Camera Equipment”, thank you!
Besides my website another important venue for buying and selling at the time was the Usenet. This was effectively a decentralized hybrid between a regular forum and a classifieds list. I think it’s still around, in obscurity.
There appeared to be a tendency to mimic the brick-and-mortar world. So, at first, online stores grouped themselves in “shopping malls”. It seemed the tendency was to restrict and fence themselves in to ward off the scary, unlimited Web. A good one was “America Online” of “You’ve-Got-Mail” fame. Americans needed to live behind that fence for some years before they dared venture out into the supposed world of drugs, crime and porn (see a parallel to Bitcoin here?).
I am mentioning those things to illustrate some weird psychological mechanisms that do exist and that may help explain how everything unfolds.
If you looked around the web at that time you saw a number of merchants (we were all pretty much pioneers) tinker on their sites and experiment with different features of this new technology. Auctions were one of them.
As we all know now, one of the auction-experimenting sites was more successful than the others.
People, buyers and sellers, flocked to eBay because it was the first and only functioning P2P market. It was not decentralized technologically, but it was self-regulated and as such a lot of the decision-making was decentralized. Everything happened in transparency. You could do searches on who bid on what, where, how much and when. Shill bidding was almost impossible because visible. If there was collusion you could uncover that, too, by searching through the history of transactions. Buyers and sellers could mutually leave feedback so if someone was prone for trouble that became obvious. Sure there were bad apples in between, as there always are, but the community regulated itself and straightened everything out over time. So, if you were either buying or selling on eBay you knew exactly what to expect. It was as predictable as it gets.
If left alone and develop… it would have expanded so much, the entire Web would have different rules of Commerce. There wouldn’t have been any room for Amazon. But…
Fast forward: Today…
In effect they abolished every single feature that enabled self-regulation before: All communication gets scanned for contact info like phone numbers or email addresses, links, etc… , feedback can only be left by the buyer, user ids are hidden, buyer history is hidden, etc…
Cynically they refer to their prey/victims until today as “community”.
So, yes, I blame eBay for stealing/hijacking this self-regulated environment from us and robbing mankind from an entirely different development into one that resulted in stagnation, that steals … from people, exploits them, isolates them, locks them into a restrictive cult-like environment.
And for those who think they are “capitalists” when they say “if you don’t like eBay why don’t you go elsewhere”: you can’t think clearly.
The initial community was trapped and then the system was hijacked and gradually turned into an autocratic oligarchy which is the exact opposite of free capitalism. That’s why they were stuck so long.
But thankfully this is not the end of the saga. Blockchain, Crypto, Bitcoin came along giving the public the power to hit back and liberate themselves. Please watch my video about “Why eBay will never accept Bitcoin”.