Algorithmic pricing

Michael Eisen found a good example of algorithmic pricing on Amazon which resulted in two booksellers pricing a book on fly genetics at almost $24 million (via yewknee).

On the day we discovered the million dollar prices, the copy offered by bordeebook was 1.270589 times the price of the copy offered by profnath. And now the bordeebook copy was 1.270589 times profnath again. So clearly at least one of the sellers was setting their price algorithmically in response to changes in the other’s price. I continued to watch carefully and the full pattern emerged.

Once a day profnath set their price to be 0.9983 times bordeebook’s price. The prices would remain close for several hours, until bordeebook “noticed” profnath’s change and elevated their price to 1.270589 times profnath’s higher price. The pattern continued perfectly for the next week.

I’m waiting for the algorithmic pricing that messes up in the other direction and nets me a Gutenberg bible for pocket change.

Bauhaus Dessau identity

Bauhaus Dessau identity sample by HORT

I’m a fan of the new identity for Bauhaus Dessau, created by HORT.

We thought a generic design would work best in order to make this distinction. The new identity was created by using strict typography, a minimalist layout, standardised formats and no colour. Being the most generic and incidental typeface, Courier was selected as the new corporate font. To guarantee a unique identity we changed the capital “A” of Courier according to Herbert Bayer’s well-known logo on the front of the Bauhaus Dessau building.

The identity also makes use of Arial, presumably due to its prevalence on most machines.

April 25, 2011 ·


Photo Lettering screenshot

Photo-Lettering from House Industries allows you to easily set headlines and download scalable vector files of the results. The service is relatively inexpensive and will be well suited to projects that need some quick custom lettering. If you don’t know anything about photo-lettering, take some time to go through the history section of the site.

April 19, 2011 ·

Ikea’s cheap American labour

Ikea workers in the United States get paid less and have fewer vacation days than their Swedish counterparts.

Laborers in Swedwood plants in Sweden produce bookcases and tables similar to those manufactured in Danville. The big difference is that the Europeans enjoy a minimum wage of about $19 an hour and a government-mandated five weeks of paid vacation. Full-time employees in Danville start at $8 an hour with 12 vacation days — eight of them on dates determined by the company.

Insert joke about how the tables have turned, albeit with a sprained-wrist from two hours of wrestling flatpack furniture.

Update: Joe Clark indicated to me that the company isn’t “Swedish”, so it’s not like the Swedes are getting any sort of preferential treatment — most European countries get a lot more vacation time than North Americans. Also, it’s interesting to note that Sweden doesn’t actually have a minimum wage — their salaries are set by collective bargaining (that’s where it helps to have unions).

April 11, 2011 ·

The Sleepless Elite

Why some people can function on little sleep and still get a lot done.

“Typically, at the end of a long, structured phone interview, they will admit that they’ve been texting and surfing the Internet and doing the crossword puzzle at the same time, all on less than six hours of sleep,” says Dr. Jones. “There is some sort of psychological and physiological energy to them that we don’t understand.”

April 11, 2011 ·