Life Rebooted
An experiment in starting anew

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Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Back in August 1998, I wrote ebay about an idea I had for incorporating ebay data into my website. I still want to keep my own personal wiener boys (as Dave Winer calls them) away from this site, so you please forgive the ambiguity. Let's just say my site covers a certain movie property and one aspect to being a fan of said property is collecting. I've been frustrated for a long time with collector's guides which are generally disconnected from reality. The real action these days is on ebay and everything is public for the world to see, so why not create a stock market ticker of sorts for your favorite items? An index like this would be based on actual transactions and not what random dealers say things are worth. It would give buyers and sellers an idea of whether they are making a good deal, and collectors can watch their collection rise in value just for fun. My message to ebay included the following:

First of all, is this legal? I want to do all this on the up-and-up. The information is your property and you have specific rights to it, so I assume I would need permission to do something of this nature. However, the situation is win-win, [withheld] fans would get a better handle on what their collectibles are worth and avoid getting ripped off, and ebay is represented as the auction site of record to those folks.

Secondly, I believe I can write the script to make this work, but you will inevitably change the formatting or operation of your site, breaking it. I was wondering if you had ever heard an idea like this and perhaps have implemented something similar already, or perhaps provided some reporting method which would reduce it to simply parsing a list of items.

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on this matter.

Thanks, (Shane)

Their response:

Thank you for your post and for your interest in eBay. We are currently considering creating a database for public use that would contain all past pricing information. Although we cannot prevent another party from collecting data from our site we would not endorse the activity and would never guarantee that changes in our site would be prewarned. The use of eBay data without express permission from eBay would not be allowed.

I was disappointed with the response, and dropped the idea. Amazon, however, recently announced a new web services feature which reminded me of my old ebay idea. It doesn't look like Amazon has opened up their auction section to this possibility yet, however, with Amazon investing time and effort into forward-looking ideas like these, ebay may be forced to fulfill my four-year old wish just to stay competitive.
7:00:31 PM    comment []

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