Fairtrade markup

Guardian report on Fairtrade:

Oppenheim points out that of the £1 extra paid for a bag of Fairtrade bananas, the proportion going back to the farmer is 4p, while of the 99p paid for a Fairtrade chocolate bar, the return for the cocoa grower is ‘less than 2p’. If a supermarket charges £2.49 for a packet of own-brand Fairtrade coffee, when the combined cost of buying, shipping, roasting and packaging it ‘cannot be much more than £1’, it results in a gross profit margin of 160 per cent.

It’s not exactly ethical, but it’s not exactly news. Retailers stay in business by driving down the prices paid to farmers and preserving their own profit margins – making Oppenheim’s article an indictment of capitalism rather than Fairtrade. As Harriet Lamb points out, ‘We set the price for the farmers, which is the only bit we could ever begin to control. If we tried in any way to set the price for the consumer, we would be taken to the Competition Commission.’ In other words, it is the retailers and middlemen who determine the mark-ups – based on the amount we are stupid enough to pay. At least under the Fairtrade system, it is consumers in the north who are being exploited, not impoverished farmers.

via Swampcottage

The Eventual Death of Software Developer Magazines

Software development magazines are losing ground compared to blogs, wikis… See Eric Sink’s post:

For a while it was fashionable to predict that the Web would eliminate publishing, or at least that it would eliminate magazine publishing. Ten years later, most of these pubs are still around. But there is obviously some truth here. Today’s developer-focused magazines are looking very sickly indeed. The health of a magazine is very closely correlated with its page count.

I also like the straightforward articles on marketing: Marketing for Geeks

The Obliteration Phenomenon

Alex Wright writes:

[…] a great deal of important work gets “obliterated” if you measure influence purely in terms of citations (or, I would argue, hyperlinks). Whiles citation analysis gives an excellent picture of how influence works in the great middle tier of scholarship, the technique falls on its face when it comes to truly groundbreaking work, which often tends to get buried in an avalanche of footnotes for follow-on, derivative works.

Which leaves me wondering, is there a corollary effect on the Web? The sheer explicitness of Web linking seems to privilege measurable manifestations of influence: Google pagerank, Technorati rankings, traffic stats, and so forth. Does such a myopic focus on metrics mask the subtler dimensions of influence? Are there hidden works out there exerting a deeper, implicit influence that doesn’t show up in terms of pagerank? This is a tough hypothesis to prove, but I suspect that pagerank and other supposedly meritocratic weighting algorithms give us an overly simplistic and potentially misleading notion of how influence really works.