Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: Anyone need supplies?
Re: Anyone need supplies?
Fri, 12 Feb 1999 09:28:08 -0500
Dear Alan and Scouters;
Of course, an on-line BSA supply catalogue would be a good idea in many
ways, no question about it. Prices and availability could be updated daily.
On line orders could speed up processing and delivery. Service could be
improved in some ways. However, problems involving availability,
preference, and expense offer strong challenges to this scheme.
We who have Internet capabilities must remember that there are still huge
numbers of Scouters who do not. Many of our volunteers either cannot afford
or do not wish to own a computer. Their priorities are simply different.
Supply would still need to create, print and distribute a large number of
catalogues. True, this number could be diminished some. But the original
problem, what to put into the catalogue and what must be removed to keep the
3rd class postal rate would not be solved.
I used an "on line" catalogue just yesterday in a pinch.. I am on a wide
band cable network and within 2 pages of looking, was wishing I had a hard
copy of the most current catalogue. Those still working on 56K or 28.8K's
would have found these graphic intense web pages maddeningly slow. Overall,
the paper catalogue is simply more practical and convenient for most
browsers (the human type, that is).
Then there is the problem of setting up a web site. Perhaps they have the
hardware, given that BSA already does have a web site running. Nonetheless,
could it take the hits that a good catalogue on line might generate? Or
would people end up waiting and fighting to get into it? I am not in the
field, but I would assume that setting up the kind of server system that
could satisfactorily serve a national demand would not come at a bargain
price. And, I think they ought to do a cost-benefit analysis before they
try it. This won't be a Pentium 366 on some desktop in the corner of the
A concomitant problem, of course, is to get the modified mailing list. NOW
who do we send the catalogue to? How do we know that Mr. George Hamilton a
District Executive now no longer requires a printed catalogue because he has
a good Internet connection? Suppose I still want one to keep in my
briefcase to show to others? It's a good solution, but I do not perceive
this simple solution to be an easy one.
Because some are simply not on line, the Internet can still be slower than
desirable, and the hardware costs versus benefits are empirically unclear,
it would be some time before I would expect to see the BSA catalogue on line
replacing even a segment of the current printed catalogue market.
Other than that, I like the idea. <grin>
District Executive, Downeast District
Pine Tree Council