Economic Issues and Strategies for IT

In this exercise, you’ll explore three websites, following links as they offer appropriate alternatives. YOU MUST FOLLOW THESE DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY!

The objective is to see whether, and if so, how, the website learns what you’re looking for and helps you find it.

The online vendors you will be shopping at IN THIS ORDER are:

Barnes and Noble
STEP ONE: Think about some INFORMATION you’d buy if you could find it in a book. You don’t know the title or author of a book — you just know that you’re curious about something and you want to find a book to help you learn more. OK? Now… let’s go shopping!

What does “shopping” mean? Shopping does NOT mean putting a term in the search engine and counting how many books come up! Instead, it means starting from your search term and EXPLORING each site, using the hints the site gives you. Does it show you links? Where do they go?

Explore the resources the site has to offer on your topic.
Read through the listings of the books that you find, follow links, read reviews and other materials, and let each site help you find the information that you are looking for.
Students who have been successful with this assignment, have devoted a minimum of 30 minutes per site.
STEP TWO: Report your findings.
Describe what you found at each site: the books, the information about the books, the “related books,” the related “stuff,” the shopping experience — did the site help you find what you were looking for or was it passive?
Compare and contrast what you found at each of the three sites.
Does the difference in degree of personalization pay off for you as a shopper? Are you likely to find what you want?
Does it pay off for the vendor? Are you likely to spend money at this site? Why or why not?
STEP THREE: Thinking like an economist, interpret what you observed based on the economic concepts and ideas covered in this module.

Hint: This assignment is about personalization of the shopping experience. It is not about web design.
Explain how the economic concepts and ideas in the readings help you make sense of your findings.
Were you surprised by your results? Or, were your findings consistent with what you expected?
What are your conclusions regarding this exercise?


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