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A View from Henry Jenkins

Girl Scouting, The eBay Way

Confession time. When I was in high school, I was an Eagle Scout. (The Scout inside me wants to correct this and say I am an Eagle Scout, since once you achieve the rank it sticks with you. yada yada)….

  • March 18, 2004

Confession time. When I was in high school, I was an Eagle Scout. (The Scout inside me wants to correct this and say I am an Eagle Scout, since once you achieve the rank it sticks with you. yada yada). But I remember my terror when I had to knock on some stranger’s door and try to sell him light bulbs or garbage bags or what have you to raise money to support the troup. Usually, I’d end up guilting some relative to buying enough so I wasn’t a disgrace to the family. I always used to envy the Girl Scouts because everyone wanted to buy those thin mint cookies and the peanut butter ones and… Anyway, I imagined it would be the easiest thing in the world to move those goodies.

Imagine my surprise to learn that in the digital age, girl scouts are having trouble connecting with customers so they are starting to peddle their wares via eBay. The New York Times reported on this story last week, talking to both buyers and sellers of cookies online. It’s worth noting that such practices are explicitly prohibited by the official Girl Scouts organization since they get in the way of the character-building which is as much a part of the goal of such sales as the actual revenue generated. Yet, this doesn’t prevent parents from setting up eBay accounts and selling off cookies for their daughters by the crate.

It’s ironic given all of the claims that digital media cuts out the middle man allowing producers to deal directly with their consumers that in this case eBay is inserting one (possibly two, if you count the overeager moms and dads) between the girls and their customers.

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