HOW TO LIVE LONG AND PROSPER IN CYBERSPACE
If the Internet is to become the marketplace of the Information Age ("The net as free-market utopia? Think again," Economic Viewpoint, Sept. 4), it will not simply be the digital replacement of yellow pages, newspaper ads, TV commercials, or even home-shopping channels.
To prosper in cyberspace, one must be able to demonstrate genuine value added--for example, in the form of sound advice, technical support, or expert opinion--all as free information. It will not take long for consumers to turn away from conventional retailers with hollow, if not misleading, sales pitches to vendors who can provide the knowledge for educated choices online. In this sense, there is no essential conflict between the cultures of free information and free-market capitalism.
James K. Ho
Information & Decision Sciences
University of Illinois