"Can a Retail Web Site Be Social?" That's the question posed by Liz C. Wang, an assistant professor in the College of Business at the University of Dallas, and three other Texas profs in a 10,000-word piece that appears in the latest Journal of Marketing. You could try to read the whole study, but there are just too many numbers -- and some of us got into journalism because there was very little math. So we'll stick with the executive summary, which says: "This research shows that using lifelike characters can enhance the consumer's perception of social interaction often missed in online (versus bricks-and-mortar) shopping, leading to positive feelings about the online experience and higher perceptions of value." In other word: yes. --Robert Wilonsky
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.