The authors of a new book on data-driven decision-making look at how Airbnb dealt—eventually, to a degree—with hosts who aren’t so hospitable.
“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” That’s the caption from a 1993 New Yorker cartoon by Peter Steiner, spoken by one dog seated at a computer to another dog. The cartoon spoke volumes about the perceived anonymity that had come to define large swaths of the early internet. Perhaps nowhere was the ability to interact and transact anonymously more transformative than in the first generation of e-commerce platforms. Hypothetically speaking, an espresso drinker from Cambridge, Massachusetts, could go online and buy a used Jura Impressa J9 espresso machine, sight unseen, from a stranger living in Berkeley, California. (If you’ve spent time in both towns, you would likely be unsurprised if these two cities were involved in such a transaction.)
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