1.5 Disintermediation

GregLawson edited this page Aug 25, 2011 · 21 revisions

The revolutionary promise of the Internet was disintermediation (see Wikipedia); excess costs would be eliminated and the golden age would arrive. Disintermediation has largely succeeded for commodity products such as generic desktop PCs, generic mp3 players, generic disk drives, generic displays, mini electronic boards, and 3.5. Micro controllers.

Proprietary closed systems have succeeded in becoming our new intermediaries partly through control of the attention economy (see Wikipedia). #Why Engineers Like to Take Things Apart and Put Them Back Together Engineers advocate for disintermediation in an evolutionary not revolutionary manner. Engineers like to take things apart and put them back together. Why?
##Repair If you can take it apart you may be able to repair it. For economical repair, the parts should be divided by reliability, listed from least reliable to most reliable:
1. Chemical systems. Most commonly batteries. Proprietary batteries are often expensive, non-interchangeable and unavailable. Check amazon for alternative batteries, but be aware they may have reduced battery time; make sure the price reflects that. Battery life is often a year. Your expensive proprietary device may be useless if you can't easily find and replace its battery.
2. Proprietary systems and services. These often become unsupported in just a year. If the company goes out of business, just gets uninterested in your product, or changes access to their servers.
3. Mechanical systems. Disk drives, DVD drives, printers. Mechanical wear and tear limit their life to a few years.
4. Electronic systems. These can last decades.
5. Community (user) supported knowledge and software (including open source software). These can live as long as there is interest in the product.
6. Open data. These can be immortal but may require regular backups and format conversions. ##Repurpose A product may be used for a different purpose than it was originally created for. ##Integration Several separate devices and software can be combined to provide higher quality information. ##Extension
A device with standard interfaces can be extended with new hardware and software to new purposes. #Interfaces Interfaces define how things can be taken apart. Standard open interfaces support disintermediation. #Who Controls (Dis)intermediation? Engineers by defining interfaces. Indirectly corporations control disintermediation by hiring the most engineers. #Mobile as the Enemy of Disintermediation Design compromises to make devices more mobile often eliminate standard open interfaces. Recent FCC decisions support net neutrality for the wired Internet but not the wireless Internet. The wired Internet developed when corporate engineers would only buy systems with inter-changable, standard interfaces. This is because corporate buyers wanted standard interfaces for repair, repurposing, integration, and extension. There does not seem to be a similar trend for wireless devices.


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