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Distribution

DISTRIBUTION

The manner in which commercial goods are distributed has evolved throughout history. Long ago, consumers directly traded physical goods and services. Eventually, different forms of physical currency, such as coins and paper money, were added to the mix. Increasingly sophisticated methods of communication played an important role in the evolution of distribution. As Purchasing explained, "In the past, to communicate needs, buyers used couriers, which evolved to using water, rail, and air as each new transportation mode came into being. For critical needs, telegraph replaced the horse followed by phone, telex, fax, private networks and, finally, the Internet."

The Internet, and later the World Wide Web, gave birth to e-commerce. For the first time in history, it was possible for buyers and sellers to communicate instantly with one another, regardless of physical location, and make arrangements regarding the exchange of goods and services. While it was relatively simple to enable online payments, the part of the transaction involving the movement of goods was another matter. Physical goods still had to be transported in some manner. On the other hand, digital goods could be transported as quickly as online payments.

DIGITAL GOODS

Digital goods, also known as soft goods or virtual goods, exist in an electronic format. Digital goods normally include different varieties of information, including text documents, audio, and video. The vast majority of computers used by the public, and by those engaging in e-commerce, are digital devices. At their most basic level, digital computers understand and process information in a binary format of zeroes and ones (0, 1, 10, 11, 100, 111, and so on). The programming languages used to create software like Web browsers, databases, word processors, and spreadsheets are written in formats closely resembling human grammar that ultimately are converted to a computer's machine language of ones and zeroes.

One of the advantages of digital goods is their minimal storage requirements. Unlike videocassettes, record albums, compact discs, and paper books, large amounts of digital goods can be stored on magnetic media like a computer's hard drive. This requires less physical storage space for buyers and seller alike. Digital goods also are perpetual. This means that text documents, computer software, digital audio, and digital video can be preserved without fear of deterioration from environmental conditions that might affect physical goods over long periods of time. Additionally, digital goods can be duplicated infinitely with each copy retaining the exact properties of the original, without a loss in quality. While this is an advantage in one regard, it also is a weakness because digital goods can be easily pirated and distributed illegally.

In the early 2000s digital goods presented several different areas of opportunity for third party companies. For example, in November 2000 Virage Inc., a provider of Internet video production software and services, joined with digital commerce services provider Qpass to offer video content providers with an outsourced means of managing, selling, and distributing their content via the Web. Another leading area of opportunity was in the area of security.

SECURITY

Once a consumer pays for digital goods, which are normally received in the form of a downloadable file, it is possible for the recipient to make endless copies of the file and redistribute them for profit or for free. This obviously damages the original seller's profit potential. One area where this kind of fraud has cost manufacturers is software. Pirates are well known for duplicating software applications that cost many hundreds of dollars in stores and selling them at lower costs via online auctions or other means.

Obviously, law enforcement agencies prosecute pirates for copyright violations and online fraud. However, this problem presented a serious roadblock for companies looking to sell digital goods via e-commerce in the early 2000s. While companies like the Wall Street Journal were able to sell information with little concern over privacy (the information quickly becomes outdated), piracy was a more serious threat for companies selling digital goods like books or audio, which had much longer life spans.

In addition to permanent copyright notices called digital watermarks, which serve as means of identifying when illegal distribution has occurred, several measures were being developed to safeguard these kinds of goods during distribution. These involved limiting what people were able to do with digital content after a file was downloaded. One example were digital music files that only played on the computer to which they were downloaded. Another was a system that allowed digital goods to be transferred between media with the condition that they were removed from the system they were copied from, leaving only one copy. InterTrust Technologies Corp. was one company offering technology like this. It offered solutions in the area of digital rights management to content providers, service providers, application builders, and others. Its technology ensured that organizations could "release digital information and profitably benefit from it throughout its full lifecycle by persistently protecting it, implementing a wide variety of business models, monitoring usage, and getting paid."

THE FUTURE OF DISTRIBUTION

Digital goods likely will play more central roles in e-commerce as technology continues to evolve. According to the Association for Computing Machinery, desktop computers will be capable of storing approximately one terabyte of information by 2010, making the long-term storage and use of digital information increasingly practical. Besides scanning and storing items of importance or historical significance, consumers will be able to accept and store vast amounts of digital audio and video content as well, leading to new distribution patterns and preferences, and opportunities for companies supporting the distribution of electronic information.

FURTHER READING:

Bell, Gordon. "A Personal Digital Store." Communications of the ACM, January 2001.

Bulkelely, Michael. "Machines Talk to Machines." Purchasing, December 22, 2000.

"Digital and Analog Information." The PC Guide, May 9, 2001. Available from www.pcguide.com.

"Going Straight." The Economist, April 5, 2001.

Hane, Paula J. "Qpass Teams With Virage for Video-content Solution." Information Today, November 2000.

"The MetaTrust Utility." InterTrust Technologies Corp. May 13, 2001. Available from www.intertrust.com.

Schull, Jonathan. "Infonomics 101: A Map of the Information Economy." Inform, February 1999.

"What is Digital Rights Management?" InterTrust Technologies Corp. May 13, 2001. Available from www.intertrust.com.

SEE ALSO: Fulfillment Problems; Order Fulfillment; Shipping and Shipment Tracking

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distribution

distribution, in economics, the allocation of a society's total wealth among various economic groups. Distribution, in that sense, does not refer to the physical marketing or circulation of goods, which is part of the process of exchange, but to the relative well-being and economic wealth of persons and groups. By classifying people according to their share of the distribution—usually by means of relative income—a picture of society's stratification, and thus its structure, may emerge. Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto developed (1897) one of the best–known theories on the subject, arguing that a pattern of income distribution is evident throughout history, in all societies. Inequalities in distribution are related to inequalities in political power; in most societies, the economically dominant strata tend also to be politically dominant. The division of labor, which necessitates exchange, causes various problems of distribution. Inequalities in distribution among industrial groups making a common product are explained by the relative number employed in each group when compared to the value of what they produce or to the relative amount they get for a specific amount of work. Unequal distribution arises also from inequality in reward to those in the same industrial classification (capitalist, manager, or laborer). The distribution of wealth between the capitalist and manager on the one hand and the laborer on the other has been a major source of social strife in the Western world since the French Revolution, and has been a particularly important theme in the writings of Karl Marx and his followers. Labor unions (see union, labor), through the use of political and economic pressure, have striven for increased wages. The distribution of the world's wealth has, since World War II, become a major issue in international politics, especially as those nations that had previously been the colonized suppliers of raw materials to the industrialized countries have gained political independence and embarked on development programs. In the United States, the National Bureau of Economic Research has done important studies on the distribution of wealth among economic groups.

See F. Levy, Dollars and Dreams: The Changing American Income Distribution (1988); K. M. Perkins, Production, Distribution, and Growth in Transitional Economies (1988).

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distribution (statistical or frequency)

distribution (statistical or frequency) A series of figures presenting all observed values (as raw numbers or proportion of cases) for a variable in a quantitative data-set—enabling a quick visual appreciation of the distribution of the data. The frequency distribution may be further illustrated by use of graphics such as a pie-chart or histogram.

A frequency or statistical distribution using observed data should not be confused with mathematical probability distributions, which are hypothetical distributions, the form of which is determined by algebraic formulae. The correspondence between an observed frequency distribution and various hypothetical mathematical distributions will often determine the type of statistical analysis performed on particular data.

Frequency distributions from a survey data-set are usually the first output from the clean and edited data-set, showing the response totals for each possible reply to each question in the questionnaire. Empirically observed distributions can be analysed using measures of dispersion and other statistical tools developed from the three main forms of probability distribution: binomial, Poisson, and normal (Gaussian).

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distribution

dis·tri·bu·tion / ˌdistrəˈbyoōshən/ (abbr.: distr.) • n. the action of sharing something out among a number of recipients: the government donated 4,000 pounds of coffee for distribution among refugees. ∎  the way in which something is shared out among a group or spread over an area: changes undergone by the area have affected the distribution of its wildlife. ∎  the action or process of supplying goods to stores and other businesses that sell to consumers: a manager has the choice of four types of distribution | [as adj.] an established distribution channel. ∎  Bridge the different number of cards of each suit in a player's hand: strength has two ingredients, high cards and distribution. DERIVATIVES: dis·tri·bu·tion·al / -shənl/ adj.

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distribution

distribution
1. The geographical area (i.e. range) within which a taxon or other group of organisms occurs.

2. The arrangement of organisms within an area.

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distribution

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t distribution

t distribution See Student's t distribution.

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distribution

distributionashen, fashion, passion, ration •abstraction, action, attraction, benefaction, compaction, contraction, counteraction, diffraction, enaction, exaction, extraction, faction, fraction, interaction, liquefaction, malefaction, petrifaction, proaction, protraction, putrefaction, redaction, retroaction, satisfaction, stupefaction, subtraction, traction, transaction, tumefaction, vitrifaction •expansion, mansion, scansion, stanchion •sanction •caption, contraption •harshen, Martian •cession, discretion, freshen, session •abjection, affection, circumspection, collection, complexion, confection, connection, convection, correction, defection, deflection, dejection, detection, direction, ejection, election, erection, genuflection, imperfection, infection, inflection, injection, inspection, insurrection, interconnection, interjection, intersection, introspection, lection, misdirection, objection, perfection, predilection, projection, protection, refection, reflection, rejection, resurrection, retrospection, section, selection, subjection, transection, vivisection •exemption, pre-emption, redemption •abstention, apprehension, ascension, attention, circumvention, comprehension, condescension, contention, contravention, convention, declension, detention, dimension, dissension, extension, gentian, hypertension, hypotension, intention, intervention, invention, mention, misapprehension, obtention, pension, prehension, prevention, recension, retention, subvention, supervention, suspension, tension •conception, contraception, deception, exception, inception, interception, misconception, perception, reception •Übermenschen • subsection •ablation, aeration, agnation, Alsatian, Amerasian, Asian, aviation, cetacean, citation, conation, creation, Croatian, crustacean, curation, Dalmatian, delation, dilation, donation, duration, elation, fixation, Galatian, gyration, Haitian, halation, Horatian, ideation, illation, lavation, legation, libation, location, lunation, mutation, natation, nation, negation, notation, nutation, oblation, oration, ovation, potation, relation, rogation, rotation, Sarmatian, sedation, Serbo-Croatian, station, taxation, Thracian, vacation, vexation, vocation, zonation •accretion, Capetian, completion, concretion, deletion, depletion, Diocletian, excretion, Grecian, Helvetian, repletion, Rhodesian, secretion, suppletion, Tahitian, venetian •academician, addition, aesthetician (US esthetician), ambition, audition, beautician, clinician, coition, cosmetician, diagnostician, dialectician, dietitian, Domitian, edition, electrician, emission, fission, fruition, Hermitian, ignition, linguistician, logician, magician, mathematician, Mauritian, mechanician, metaphysician, mission, monition, mortician, munition, musician, obstetrician, omission, optician, paediatrician (US pediatrician), patrician, petition, Phoenician, physician, politician, position, rhetorician, sedition, statistician, suspicion, tactician, technician, theoretician, Titian, tuition, volition •addiction, affliction, benediction, constriction, conviction, crucifixion, depiction, dereliction, diction, eviction, fiction, friction, infliction, interdiction, jurisdiction, malediction, restriction, transfixion, valediction •distinction, extinction, intinction •ascription, circumscription, conscription, decryption, description, Egyptian, encryption, inscription, misdescription, prescription, subscription, superscription, transcription •proscription •concoction, decoction •adoption, option •abortion, apportion, caution, contortion, distortion, extortion, portion, proportion, retortion, torsion •auction •absorption, sorption •commotion, devotion, emotion, groschen, Laotian, locomotion, lotion, motion, notion, Nova Scotian, ocean, potion, promotion •ablution, absolution, allocution, attribution, circumlocution, circumvolution, Confucian, constitution, contribution, convolution, counter-revolution, destitution, dilution, diminution, distribution, electrocution, elocution, evolution, execution, institution, interlocution, irresolution, Lilliputian, locution, perlocution, persecution, pollution, prosecution, prostitution, restitution, retribution, Rosicrucian, solution, substitution, volution •cushion • resumption • München •pincushion •Belorussian, Prussian, Russian •abduction, conduction, construction, deduction, destruction, eduction, effluxion, induction, instruction, introduction, misconstruction, obstruction, production, reduction, ruction, seduction, suction, underproduction •avulsion, compulsion, convulsion, emulsion, expulsion, impulsion, propulsion, repulsion, revulsion •assumption, consumption, gumption, presumption •luncheon, scuncheon, truncheon •compunction, conjunction, dysfunction, expunction, function, junction, malfunction, multifunction, unction •abruption, corruption, disruption, eruption, interruption •T-junction • liposuction •animadversion, aspersion, assertion, aversion, Cistercian, coercion, conversion, desertion, disconcertion, dispersion, diversion, emersion, excursion, exertion, extroversion, immersion, incursion, insertion, interspersion, introversion, Persian, perversion, submersion, subversion, tertian, version •excerption

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