I´ve been reading a really interesting book on eBay and how auction culture is changing the way we use goods and shop. It´s called Future Shop — written by Daniel Nissanoff. Nissanoff is one of the early Web visionaries that "got it" and got rich in the process. He started one of the first online b2b exchanges, called PartMiner. It was a a half billion dollar company at one point.
The book talks about how the auction culture is reshaping the very definition of "consumer." We´re shifting from a mass-marketed-to culture to a participatory buy-and-sell culture. Nissanoff considers this shift a huge opportunity for all kinds of business people, calling it an "economic juggernaut." Businesses like I Sold It On eBay and Trading Post help facilitate this new buy-and-sell culture. All kinds of analytic services that help people figure out what to buy and sell (and when) are cropping up, too.
Nissanoff explains, "anyone who understands how to maximize the value-to-utility life cycle of their possesions will be rewarded with a more prosperous but less costly lifestyle."
I´ll post more about Future Shop as I read on. It´s fascinating stuff.