A celebration of the riches of the web.
Today in Web Monitor: the band that showed corporate America how to do business, why authors write books when they earn barely more than minimum wage, and what happens when film stars and surrealists mix.
• Joshua Green in the Atlantic says the Grateful Dead have long been a subject of academic curiosity. One of the first journal articles to focus on the rock band appeared in the Journal of Psychedelic Drugs about the LSD consumption of fans. But Mr Green argues that oddly enough, the band's influence on the business world may turn out to be a significant part of its legacy. Not only were they the first to give away free stuff, but lyricist John Perry Barlow was an internet pioneer. All in all, Mr Green says, they changed business:
"Without intending to - while intending, in fact, to do just the opposite - the band pioneered ideas and practices that were subsequently embraced by corporate America. One was to focus intensely on its most loyal fans. It established a telephone hotline to alert them to its touring schedule ahead of any public announcement, reserved for them some of the best seats in the house, and capped the price of tickets, which the band distributed through its own mail-order house... Treating customers well may sound like common sense. But it represented a break from the top-down ethos of many organizations in the 1960s and 70s. Only in the 80s, faced with competition from Japan, did American CEOs and management theorists widely adopt a customer-first orientation."
• In the Big Picture, economist and author Barry Ritholtz works out he earned less than $10 an hour to write his book about the bank bailouts. Given that other authors tell him he's lucky to break even, he wonders why people bother writing books:
"People who otherwise wouldn't have thought twice about you (Him? He's an idiot!) suddenly start to take you seriously. You become 'the guy who wrote the book'. Your speaking fees double, your regular business benefits. Other publishers start pitching you book ideas. In general, your personal brand becomes more valuable. My friend (and book agent) Lloyd Jassin says you write a book to Build your Brand. And there is much truth to that."
• Film actress Ali MacGraw has been out of the limelight for decades, save late-night repeats of the film Love Story. In an interview with Sheila Weller for Vanity Fair, she insists she wanted it that way and reminisces about surreal times where, fittingly, Salvador Dali was involved:
"'At one surreal cocktail party, the two most extraordinary people were Richard Nixon - so uncomfortable that his small talk was heartbreaking - and Salvador Dali,' she says. When MacGraw complimented Dali on his 'incredible cloisonne walking stick', he invited her to the King Cole Bar, in the St Regis hotel, where he held lecherous court over a coterie of ingenues. MacGraw beat a hasty exit, but Dali later sent her a gift-boxed, imitation-pearl-encrusted live iguana."