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Here we will consider tactics and strategies for leveling the informational playing field.
the economic implications of information asymmetry
The term information asymmetry traditionally refers to situations when certain facts are known to one party to a transaction, and unknown to another. From the perspective of the unknowning participant, there is a range of possible outcomes, and this makes the deal worth less than it would be given “perfect information.” The role suggested for early-stage pubwan in ameliorating asymmetry is not in revealing concealed information (illegal?), but in tabulating, visualizing and mining information already publicly available (legal?). This is suggested as a means to test the hypothesis that individuals who receive information retail (as single data points), deal at some kind of disadvantage with entities which receive information wholesale (in bulk), even though often it is the same information.
The data collecting and processing methods suggested for pubwan are designed to “map the market” in consumer goods, and hopefully we can eventually branch out into the labor market and markets in commercial goods. We hope our map will shed some light on some economic questions, and we suspect that the answers might be found in the “contours.” One question is, how steep are the tradeoffs? This applies to tradeoffs in general, like between buying cheaply and buying union-made, between eating cheaply and eating healthy, between paying exorbitant interest rates and paying exorbitant fees. Even more generally, it is hoped we can empirically estimate elasticity of supply. Elasticity of demand is a measure of how sensitive consumers are to price changes. Retailers and perhaps their IT partners can measure this directly with a loyalty card. Elasticity of supply is a more subtle animal, but certainly even by casual observation we can identify product categories whose retail prices are tightly clustered, while others are all over the map.
Early-stage pubwan is predicated on the assumption that prices are non-negotiable; a naïve assumption to be sure. After all, the Italian word for “store” is “negozio.” Nevertheless, the assumption generally holds true for supermarkets, hence supermarkets are suggested as the first informational battleground for the pubwan movement. Where prices are subject to negotiation, common sense informs us that the tactical advantage goes to the party that best knows the “going rate.” Pubwan is suggested as a tool for the empirical determination of the going rate. Symmetric transparency in prices could potentially alter the balance of power in a wide variety of negotiations, from collective bargaining to business-to-business deals to fairly abstract valuation problems. An example of the latter might include arriving at the the fair price of on-the-job-training, when paid for in the “currency” of a no-compete clause.
the technological implications of information asymmetry
dumbed-down technology for consumers
Technological products intended for the consumer market tend to cast the user in a passive role.