Lost in the Super Market

Jun 01, 2021

Read as a Book (PDF)

Technological change has transformed American society in ways that present novel questions for public policy. Markets function differently than in the past, less constrained by the need for human relationships or even contact. Media business models present different incentives to content producers and experiences to consumers, while blurring lines between the two groups. The challenge remains to understand the consequences of this transformation and to find our way in the massive, digitally mediated marketplace that constitutes so much of our private and common lives today.

Lost in the Super Market aims to help policymakers find their bearings in the digital age. The foreword, by Oren Cass, provides a framework for disentangling the problem of economic concentration posed by “Big Tech,” the political and democratic implications of our public square moving online, and the novel regulatory issues associated with our new Super Market. The collection then convenes pairs of experts to explore three facets of the Super Market and their consequences: frictionless exchange that bypasses the traditional institutions and relationships of markets, the attention economy’s pursuit of user “engagement,” and all-knowing algorithms that predict user behaviors and preferences. A short primer accompanies each pair of essays, outlining the contours and policy implications of the topic. Podcast conversations between the pairs of writers will explore the issues in further depth.