Re: Shopping baskets (was: Session tracking)

Brian Behlendorf (
Thu, 27 Apr 1995 14:53:04 +0500

On Thu, 27 Apr 1995, Bert Bos wrote:
> I don't think HTTP, with or without cookies, will ever be suitable for
> electronic shopping. In the physical world, products are scarce,

Not necessarily. There was a mountain of oranges at the supermarket last
night. Now, in the case of something like that ultra-rare Jesus Jones
remix album from Japan I picked up the other night from Tower, yeah,
that's a situation where being able to put the product in my hand
reassured me that no one else would get it before I did - but the greater
reassurance was that I wouldn't leave the store without forgetting to buy
it. Scarcity is a difficult thing to handle in any remote shopping
situation - how many times have you watched the Home
Shopping Club and seen "order now! We've only got three of 'em!"
The market will find a solution for this. As long as the shopping cart
application allows the user to buy things as soon as they want, it's not
a problem.

> You need not just a stateful protocol, but a permanent
> connection: if the customer leaves the shop without paying, then you
> can put the product back on the shelf. A magic cookie is like an
> indefinite claim: if the customer is allowed to take it home with him,
> you'll never know if he's planning to buy it eventually or not.

Sounds like we're trying to get a little too literal here. "put the
product back on the shelf"? If all the user is saving is a URL to the
object... anyways, internet shopping is going to be fundamentally
different from in-store shopping or phone ordering or infomercials or
anything, and the "shopping cart" metaphor was not meant to imply we
should build a system that exactly duplicates the in-store shopping

Though, the problem of putting objects "on hold" could be pretty easily
handled with some simple CGI scripts.


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