My name is Jason Lee and I teach 6th grade mathematics at Hightstown Middle School in Hightstown, New Jersey. I can’t say I particularly enjoy my job, but I still give it my best. I do enjoy spending time with my students, and any occasion when we can all laugh together is a good one. Most students who pass through school here will go on to work at low-income jobs for the rest of their lives. The few students who do seem to have potential for a bright future rarely achieve one.
About five years ago, our school received a number of outdated computers and a small grant to install Internet access from the nearby Armand Hammer Corporation. We converted a classroom downstairs into our first-ever computer laboratory, and the kids couldn’t get enough. Very few of them had used a computer before, and of those, few actually owned one. Even today, a lot of kids know what a computer is but lack basic knowledge about its use. Six months ago, one of our outstanding students, Jake Meyers, told me that he wanted to make websites for a living. I was enamored, and decided to help him as best as I could.
We spent our after school hours for the next month learning HTML together. Jake’s first website was about Pokemon cards, one of his many passions. Jake and I made a page for each of his favorite characters, found pictures of them on the Internet, and posted the site to a free server. His next idea was to create original pictures depicting battles between the Pokemon, but because our district could not afford any drawing software, we were unable to do it. When Jake began to feel discouraged, I resolved to get my hands on a professional quality program. My wife, who is a secretary at an advertising firm, was able to get a copy of Adobe Illustrator for me. I installed the program on one of the lab computers, and Jake and I once again spent hours designing his imaginary Pokemon haven.
Cookies and Price Discrimination on the Internet
Abstract This paper discusses a recent controversy in which Amazon.com was found to be pricing the same product differently for different customers. This paper addresses the ethical implications that such an action could have on such a young industry. Is it discrimination or is it justified research?
Imagine this: you are strolling through the aisles of your favorite grocery store. You have the sudden craving for some sweets so you head to the cereal aisle. There you see a seemingly endless array of colorful boxes. You stroll on over, pushing your cart all the way, as you finally end up in front of a cheerful box of Cap’n Crunch. You look at the price, and, lucky you, this product is on sale! Normally $4.13, it is now only $3.85. You are so pleased with this find that you drop the original in your cart and reach for another box. You think everything is fine until you happen to glance at the price tag. This one says $4.00! Thinking you made a mistake, you check your original box and there you see that, indeed, the price is different! In a whirl of confusion, you begin randomly selecting boxes of Cap’n Crunch flinging them aside as you read the price tags. $3.75, $3.90, $4.10. All different! You realize that someone out there either has a very bad short-term memory, or they must think you are truly oblivious.
Don’t think this can happen? Think again. This same ordeal happened to nearly 7,000 shoppers on the popular e-commerce site Amazon.com last September as they were innocently shopping for their favorite DVDs. As a shopper went online for a particular DVD, they would be granted a discount of either 20, 30, or 40 percent for a specific DVD. Problem was, the different prices were given simultaneously to different customers! At first, Amazon thought they would get away with what they called “a random pricing experiment”, but as customers began comparing prices on Amazon’s very own forums, strange anomalies began to arise. Customers found that, not only were different people getting different discounts, but sometimes if a different browser were used, the same person could get different discounts on the same computer! Needless to say, consumers bitterly attacked Amazon’s betrayal of trust and demanded their money back. Within days, Amazon’s CEO extraordinaire himself, Jeff Bezos, issued an official apology and refund to their customers, all the while denying that any