The Signposts Timeline

Shopping and employment are changing drastically in the developed nations (2014)

(latest update of this section on or about 9-30-03)

_________by J.R. Mooneyham_________
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Back to 2009-2017 AD...

2014 milestone: Commerce and employment are changing drastically in the developed nations... telecommuting, in-home shopping, reliable credibility ratings, and new proxy delegation powers garner a bigger and bigger mind share with consumers, resulting in fewer home, auto, and other traditional late 20th century big ticket 'gotta-have' item sales.... favor of more and better services, and an ongoing paradigm shift in manufactured product offerings to consumers (in the developed states at least).

Sources include Edward Kerschner of PaineWebber Group, according to "E-Commerce Forecasts Seen As Too Conservative" By Reuters, Jun 2, 1999,, The Technology Network, URL:

....advances in home deliveries and affiliate marketing and micropayments widen and deepen economic opportunities for everyone....

Affiliates programs are so far one of the best working marketing devices on the net; therefore the future outlook for them looks bright. Income opportunities for individuals via affiliates programs look to expand.

Many affiliates programs of the future will continue to operate somewhat outside of direct monetary transactions (such as banner/advertising exchanges or higher frequency news updates or wider/deeper access to otherwise restricted content) due to substantial indirect benefits which may be realized for all participants, such as building and maintaining brand recognition and traffic, customer loyalty, and more.

-- "Affiliates Programs" (Sidebar to the section on Web marketing in Jakob Nielsen's column on Web research); Alertbox July 1999,

With an ever bigger chunk of the economy going virtual, the horrendous sprawl of shopping malls and 'edge cities' built up during past decades begin rapidly to collapse or else be restructured for more modern purposes. Some old shopping malls for instance become local studio affiliate centers which are essentially multimedia service bureaus for amateur and semi-professional interactive and passive multimedia/film/gaming projects in which the sponsering/distributing studios will share the profits with the makers.

-- "When the Mall's Just a Keystroke Away, Should Retailers Worry?" by JOEL KOTKIN, Los Angeles Times, 5-3-98

-- deadmalls DOT com Contents

On the mainstream delivery front, observers from the late 20th century might notice fairly large and unusual bins installed outside many homes and businesses, or a large extra door or set of doors embedded in the walls or elsewhere on most buildings. These 21st century auxiliary entrances allow access to lockable delivery storage, accessible to various delivery personnel and the boxes' respective owners. The boxes often boast full or partial refrigeration capacities for the delivery of perishable items, as well as more general purpose storage options. The bins serve as a two-way transfer system between both owner and shipping services; delivery personnel may either take packages or other items from the box for transport elsewhere at the owner's desire, or deliver items like groceries and dry cleaning to the box, per webbed, emailed, faxed, or phoned instructions.

-- "One Less Reason to Leave the House" by LEV GROSSMAN, TIME Digital - June 15, 1999,

Several developed states have unexpectedly big headaches from all these changes, Japan among them. In Japan's case, tiny retail outlets had been largely protected from giant retail warehouses in decades past, unlike in USAmerica, where malls and Wal-Marts and Toys 'R Us stores had been allowed to proliferate. However, as the 20th century drew to a close this was hurting Japan's productivity as its internal sales and distribution networks became increasingly outmoded by that of other nations, inevitably resulting in a less competitive Japanese economy overall (especially in combination with other problems in financial areas).

Now, by 2014, even as Japan is in the midst of its own mall/giant retailer building and related real estate boom, and overhaul of its distribution network to more closely match the Fed Ex/UPS institutions in USAmerica and elsewhere of the late 1990s/early 2000s, the other advanced nations are already moving to the new virtual models and intricate affiliate marketing infrastructures which devastate older systems in terms of economics and competition.

The result is another financial shock for Japan, very similar to the real estate and then financial market bubbles which burst many years before. Because the virtual commerce economy, unlike physical plants and employees and products, cannot be effectively blocked or regulated by the centralized Japanese bureaucracy (without risking still worse consequences), and so sweeps all before it, like a great tsunami.

-- "WILL TECHNOLOGY LEAVE JAPAN BEHIND? By Irene M. Kunii, with Brian Bremner, in Tokyo, Special Report -- The 21st Century Economy -- Global Challenge, Business Week/McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc: August 31, 1998

-- "The Internet Economy: the World's Next Growth Engine" By MICHAEL J. MANDEL With Irene M. Kunii in Tokyo, BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : OCTOBER 4, 1999 ISSUE

Of course, with heavy to mid-range manufacturing of old fashioned legacy goods suffering a severe slowdown in sales in the developed nations, as well as slower than expected growth in developing states too (due to them 'skipping a generation' in many aspects of their industrial and consumer market evolution), here too is a second whammy for heavily manufacturing based nations like Japan and many other Asian countries.

Factors like these contribute greatly to the major changes which occur on this side of the world in the 21st century.

But Asian economies are far from the only elements affected by the changes. 'The rich get richer and the poor get poorer' is a very apt cliche for the early 21st century; for although nimble entrepreneurs and the savviest consumers/investors often manage to outmaneuver various competitors or avoid scams by staying abreast of the latest technological developments (and even shut down some corporations and governments previously thought invincible by the markets), the vast majority of 'average' small businesses and consumers suffer mightily during this period. Rampant identity theft harms both individuals and the small businesses which depend on them as customers, while big companies are better able to shrug off the damage. Partly this is the fault of USAmerica, whose long time stance on personal security measures like encryption has left not only its own population vulnerable to criminal assaults in the new age, but the populations of many other developed nations as well, which tended to go along with whatever USAmerica thought to be the wisest course in such matters. This all laid the groundwork for helping insure a severe recession during this period, for which a small part of the remedy proved to be some practical changes in personal security and e-commerce policies. Time short and stressed out consumers often lack the time and energy to exploit the net sufficiently to protect themselves from the latest scams and marketing/advertising manipulations of Madison Avenue. Worse yet, our educational systems are now turning out ever more specialized graduates, who are therefore ever LESS educated in general terms, and so often reacting to the marketplace much like a wholly uneducated person did in the past(!) This phenomenon only increases the market power of many larger, established companies, rather than lessening it-- and so contributes to the stagnation in innovation dogging some industries, due to the business-bureaucracy complex's preference for 'lazziz-faire', big business politico-economics.

-- Society for Human Resource Management, January/February 1998, and the Futurist, Technology Development Predictions: 2001-2030 (found on/about 6-8-98)

Should USAmerica do away with high school altogether, making elementary school be grades K through 6, secondary school grades 7 through 10, and encourage the 16 year old graduates of these to then enroll in 2 or 4 year colleges, go to work, or enter vocational training of some kind?

In "Jefferson's Children: Education and the Promise of American Culture", Leon Botstein makes the case that we're wasting our time and our childrens' as well (and possibly even harming them) with the present day high school system. The raw anarchic pecking order which often emerges in USA high schools today based on popularity, physical attractiveness, sports acumen, gangs, or plain old bullying power is obviously flawed, and easily spins out of control when you add the stimulating effect of puberty and other elements to the mix. Witness the Columbine school massacre.

I recall in my own rural high school environment of the early seventies I was forced to spend more time fighting or trying to avoid fights than studying-- which helped knock the hell out of my grades compared to the elementary school I'd previously attended. Actually, in hind sight I have to say the high school environment was very similar to the elementary school climate-- the main difference was all the negatives of the younger school were just heavily amplified in the older one-- to nearly murderous proportions, in many cases.

Indeed, my own youthful experience resembled far too closely that depicted in the famous book "Lord of the Flies" for my liking-- but deep within rural USAmerica itself, and usually within 30 yards or so of adults, rather than on some isolated island with no adults at all.

-- "A call to radically rethink high school", Interview with Leon Botstein, By Marjorie Coeyman, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, May 23, 1999

But consumers too make significant gains during this period, as reliable credibility/reputation ratings services blossom, and help consumers punish and/or avoid the worst offending businesses, products, and services within many sectors of the economy. Automated shopping and research bot software also contribute to this development.

Unfortunately, most mega-corporations manage to largely shield themselves from the effects of the credibility/reputation ratings services, with the help of new government regulations, deep pockets, and advanced consumer psychological manipulation techniques. For example, to overcome a single credibility debacle in regards to one area of business, a mega corporation can simply buy out a smaller competitor with a better rating, and ride that rating into the ground too-- escaping the second rating round by buying yet another competitor, and so on and so forth, until finally the megacorp is a virtual monopoly so that the ratings no longer matter.

Beneficial ratings consequences include a substantial reduction in the success lifespans of scams by illegitimate operations.

In the area of legitimate enterprises, small and mid-sized businesses bear the brunt of the ratings effects overall, rather than larger enterprises. The ratings services tend to push new startups to primarily target either all new and 'unrated' markets, or existing markets where ratings across the board are dismal. The environment also encourages attempts by companies to confuse the ratings classifications for new products and services by both hype and frequent functionality and/or specification changes. However, (with a few exceptions) the overall quality of goods and services rises steadily for consumers despite many efforts of the market players to evade the effects of ratings.

Though the extra pressure on small and mid-sized businesses makes it more difficult for new startups to succeed in sectors already reasonably well-served by existing companies, it also makes many existing companies much more efficient and resourceful, and harder-to-kill targets for megacorporations which decide to take their growing markets. Thus, the megacorps are forced more often to buy out their competitors than run them out of business, compared to what occurred in the past.

Jakob Nielsen offers a list of current (1999) reputation managers including eBay, Epinions, Google, Go, Slashdot, and Third Voice.

-- "Reputation Managers are Happening", Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, September 5, 1999,

Another factor is the greater leverage corporations are gaining over citizens due to new knowledge of human psychology and behavior, and ever improving predictive models of consumer responses to various stimuli, much like the improving models for weather forecasting.

-- Net Advertisers Turn To Psychology By Malcolm Maclachlan, TechWeb 12-31-1998, URL:,, The Technology Network

-- "Science finds brainwaves that make shoppers spend" by Jonathan Leake, Science Editor, The Sunday Times, August 8 1999, Times Newspapers Ltd.,

-- "Computer Ads Beat Human Ones In Creativity Study"By Deborah Zabarenko Reuters/Yahoo! News Tech Headlines, September 7 1999

At the same time, many large companies are beginning to experience seemingly perpetual rises in profits, due to computing advances finally beginning to provide the enormous improvements in productivity and efficiency for organizations, manufacturing, and services originally anticipated decades before. This change, combined with effective patent lifespans remaining for the most part as lengthy as they were a century earlier (if not longer), is nourishing the growth of monstrous global corporate entities, far larger and more powerful than any individual government. The body politic is fast running out of time to prevent these behemoths from remaking the entire world in their own image...

-- Society for Human Resource Management, January/February 1998, and the Futurist, Technology Development Predictions: 2001-2030 (found on/about 6-8-98)

-- Culture & Ideas 6/1/98: "Pop goes the culture The 2lst century will serve up 'nomadicity,' 'microintensity,' and more", BY TODD GITLIN, U.S.News & World Report magazine]

Sources include an interview of Noam Chomsky by Adrian Zupp, published by The Boston Phoenix/Weekly Wire/DesertNet software, APRIL 5, 1999, titled "Who Runs America? Forty minutes with Noam Chomsky".

-- "Dateline: Space 2012" Brenda Forman, AIAA San Francisco Section Newsletter February 1993

Geopolitical government efforts to collect revenue from internet transactions are kicking into high gear. Roughly two-thirds or more of the separate state governments of USAmerica have agreed to a sweeping overhaul of their sales tax collections across-the-board, which now integrates internet sales.

-- This E-Tax Proposal Is Simple -- but Sweeping By Howard Gleckman, EDITED BY DOUGLAS HARBRECHT, NEWS FLASH, BW ONLINE DAILY BRIEFING, November 18, 1999,,,

The new plan helps even the playing field a bit for physical brick and mortar vendors who up to now have been suffering mightily from the online onslaught, with thousands of them shutting their doors forever. The respite however doesn't promise to last very long. Door-to-door deliveries and telephone and online purchasing have become must-have options for virtually all physical stores in order to remain competitive with net vendors. Automated restocking of home commodities for consumers by local vendors has also become a given. A sizeable portion of consumers still prefer to shop in a physical location, but these are largely older and poorer and less educated consumers.

Tiny Mom'n Pop storefront throwbacks to the past multiply in rural areas to service these consumers, as the giant supermarkets and super stores of past decades begin disappearing. The storefronts typically are small buffer warehouses affiliated with larger centralized warehouse and delivery companies. The small shops offer selection areas perhaps twice to three times the size of a circa 1980 Seven-Eleven convenience store, with mostly artificial displays of goods available for inspection. Only certain items like real fruit and vegetables are actually available for the shoppers to handle and purchase directly. The rest are shown in large wall-sized displays that resemble overhead views of old fashioned super market aisles. These are touchscreens, which zoom in where indicated by the customer. When the customer locates an item they are interested in, a readout in large type listing the price, quantity, and other information appears. The customer may select the amount and choose to take delivery at the store or at home, at a precise time and date (or to a home bin). When done shopping the customer identifies their account for payment and then leaves for home (only carrying groceries out if they chose non-home delivery, or selected some fruits or vegetables on the spot).

Optional headsets may also be picked up and worn by shoppers in the store for extra help and interaction during shopping, by way of either artificial intelligence agents or live human shopping aides.

(For more about this period check out Perspectives 1990 AD-2050 AD)

Back to 2009-2017 AD...

The above article(s) come from and make references to a collection copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 by J.R. Mooneyham (except where otherwise noted in the text). Text here explicitly authored by J.R. Mooneyham may be freely copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes in paper and electronic form without charge if this copyright paragraph and link to or are included.

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