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RUSHKOFF: Well, they lose out, don't they? People who want free email or ISP service have to submit to advertising. It's as if they are required to get remedial education in marketing. Only the poor must submit to the ads until they figure out how to participate in the market.

When new networking technologies become ubiquitous to the wealthy, those who aren't hooked up end up being at a disadvantage. The irony is we all end up paying more, not less, for the very same thing. Once a service like Amazon.milk.com is around, the milk companies will save a lot of money because they're only going to have to ship as much milk as is ordered. And maybe we'll even pay a little extra service charge to have that milk ready for us, or delivered in refrigerated kegs. It all looks like a harmless luxury until everyone's doing it. Then if you want to get your milk at the corner bodega and you haven't planned in advance, you're going to pay $4.00 a quart instead of $1.50. You'll pay a premium for the added convenience of simply buying milk the old fashioned way! And who's going to have to pay that premium? The people who don't have newest Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.5 and the chip that can run it.

I started looking at all these downsides. I've lived through 15 years of one brief cycle. And the Internet cycle happened faster than most. But gosh, look at the difference between Cyberia and Coercion as books. Cyberia announced a utopian vision. And while Coercion is not pessimism or conspiracy theory, it does contain a few warnings. It calls for us to employ a certain ethical restraint, and to develop our innate ability to evaluate our actions against our sense of purpose.

In the book I propose that we all have clear moments of buyer's remorse ­ and sometimes they happen before we even make the purchase, or take whatever action we'll later regret. Sometimes it happens when you walk into a mall, or when you go to an on-line site, or when you're thinking about getting the new browser, or the new computer, or taking that job, or worse, coercing someone else. If you're an employee at the Gap, you experience that same moment of hesitation, of fear, that the customer does. Do I want to use a coercive sales technique that I learned watching the Gap's instructional videos? I'll win a bonus or a T-shirt if I can make this person buy a belt along with his jeans, and I'll get in trouble if I don't make enough 3-item sales... but I can tell he doesn't have that much money. We all experience these moments of doubt, these moments of hesitation when our true sensibility emerges. And then we all try to squash it because we want to make the extra buck, get that MIG jet, get the sale, buy the item, or promote our brand.

JB: What do you tell companies that hire you? What do they want to know?