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The Internet & New Media

By Akosua Kathryn Albritton

“““““““““`E-fencing is not referring to the sport of swordplay; rather, it’s the activity of selling stolen goods through the Internet.  Instead of going to pawn shops with hot merchandise, thieves innovate their craft by selling through online auction sites.  The Today Show aired a segment about e-fencing Wednesday, January 24, 2007.  There is a sizeable number of people who make their living as thieves.  Today Show had clips from actual closed circuit cameras taping teams of thieves taking merchandise from well-known retailers.  Some thieves have hand-held devices that allows them to change the barcode information to show a lower price for the goods when they go to check out.  Talk about proprietary software!  The merchandise is later sold on such sites as online auctions and clandestine locations.
Two people did on-air interviews under the condition of being shot in the shadows.  One interviewee explained the hand-held device.  It’s possible to reduce a price to a fraction of the original list and then sell the merchandise for the suggested retail price online.  For example, a product usually sold for $350 is reduced to $50.  It goes through checkout and the person pays for it.  When sold through the online auction site, the product’s suggested retail price is displayed.  Either the Web site offers only auctioning or does a combination of fixed price and bidding options.
eBay provided a written response to this phenomenon.  The company, which has partners and patrons across the globe, acknowledged the fencing opportunity and has implemented policies and procedures to spot fencing activity.  eBay realizes the major effort required to completely eradicate it and, therefore, stresses the need for developing trust and community.  eBay is not the only online auction enterprise.  In fact, it is a relative newcomer compared to online auctions that specialize in specific industries and commodities.  However, eBay is the most publicized.  Suggestions for auction enthusiasts and retailers include having cashiers well-versed in merchandise pricing and developing additional security measures on bar coding.  For buyers: get to know the sellers and ask the auction enterprises to investigate new and existing sellers-even on a random basis.
The Program’s Digital
Promotion Strategy
This columnist recently met a hip-hop artist/music producer.  He’s an office worker and writing tutor by day, and performer by night.  He’s Lateef Oseni and he says he “performs on average two to three times a week.”  While assessing English compositions, he revealed that he was part of the recent Wall Street Project Economic Summit’s Hip-Hop Showcase.  He’s busy working his show so well because he has a technology-powered public relations strategy.
Oseni maintains a My Space page ( where he uploads his beats, sounds and upcoming performance dates for his group, called The Program.  “Friends” populate his page that he found when he does searches for hip-hop fans and performers.  As a “Friend”, people exchange mail, notes and blogs.  He does the traditional PR activity that consists of networking at dates where he and other artists perform.  He distributes postcards and finds out about other performance venues.  Oseni also passes out free sample CDs.  To keep his site current he has his performances shot by digital camera and camcorder.  When he returns to his office, he uploads the shots to his MySpace page.
For those in the music business, this is old hat.  For others-new performers and fans-it’s quite fascinating.  For example, Lateef Oseni has a private recording studio in his home. Whenever he pads the walls with foam, the studio is in session.  He produces beats and records his rhymes using Pro Toolsc.  Pro Toolsc is recording software for PCs.  It comes with a stand and microphone.  Running cables from the microphone and a keyboard to the PC’s hard drive, a single artist or band is ready for a recording session.  The session is saved on the hard drive where it can be uploaded to a Web-site, burned to a CD or heard through the PC’s speakers.  Pro Toolsc allows users to experiment with mixing different music files to come up with a new sound.  The Program “has an eclectic sound with underlying strains of Old School and New School Hip Hop.”  When asked about putting up a Web site, Oseni said the website will be done later.  For now, the digital camera, camcorder, recording software, PC and the foam is moving The Program forward.
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