Big Box web

I live in a town that's grown from about 20,000 people to about 65,000 people in six or so years. It's a suburb of Toronto; or, in a sense, a suburb of the Toronto suburbs.

I think, of the 45,000 people who just moved here, most came from the nearby suburbs. One thing you notice about this town is how few people shop on its traditional main street -- it's a pretty street with traditional shops, but at peak times it's dead. My theory is that, these people who came from other suburbs return to those suburbs to shop; they are used to the big box stores with big value. To the locals, it may seem odd to drive for 45 minutes to buy meat, but to suburbanites that's an average Saturday (ie. hell). You could say that main street has been disintermediated by people whose commute has conditioned them to long drives.

I think something similar occurs on the Web. I was listening to Cat Stevens on youtube (ie. the universal juke box) and wanted a listing of tracks on a cassette tape that I likely lost five years ago; I wanted to listen to the songs on YouTube in the same order as the album/cassette.

What did I do? Until recently, I would have gone to, because that's a Canadian website at the online source for physical music media. But before I started typing,  I realized that Amazon is better than HMV. I don't really care that much that it's in the U.S.

I don't care about the more local option; all that I care about is the one big answer that I can store in my head. I can keep a few dozen URLs in there, and covers off a lot of products.

So, as far as the web goes, maybe things are spiky and not flat. Maybe there's only room for one Amazon, and one eBay and one Google, etc. The Network Effect supports this, too.

But the flat Earth argument would be that sophisticated searches could flatten all of the Amazon competitors and provide me with a list of prices. So Amazon becomes where I research and price determines where I buy. But maybe Joe the plumber/surfer doesn't use that type of thing.