Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Disintermediation and the Bear Market

Looking ahead to survival strategies when the Bear rears its vicious head again, the following story - and especially the headline - got my attention:

DIY Laser Market Exploding, Cosmetic Surgeons Not Happy
by Alexis Madrigal, Wired Science Blog
Want to get rid of some unsightly hair, but don’t want to spend the big bucks for electrolysis or a laser clinic? Now, you can buy your own laser and do it yourself.

And people are...

...Other cosmetic procedures appear to be taking place at home, despite dubious legality. One website, discountmedspa.com purports to sell its clients Botox, which is a prescription drug, over the internet. Wired Science was able to proceed through the order form on the website up to the method-of-payment details without being asked for a prescription...

Laser tech (applications from secure communications to medical uses to entertainment) and Biotech (from "fabbing" chemicals and even materials using biological reactors to homebrew medicine to all the potential horrors of bioterrorism) and all the massive leverage you get by using microchips to give dumb machines "brains" - it is has been eroding competitive advantages for years and in my opinion, the pace will only quicken as times grow tougher.

We in the West have been wealthy enough and secure enough to ignore the vast potential to hack these now-common technological advances for fun, profit and survival. We haven't needed to. It is hard to learn to crack code and it takes work to cook up your own home system to run a drip-irrigation system for an in-home greenhouse to supplement your food supply and we haven't needed to hack microwave ovens to build weapons to fend off mob attacks.

But the potential is there.

The U.S. has a vast pool of talent in technology and a deep and rich history of tinkerers and home inventors. Much of that talent is currently sedated by internet porn, teevee and texting, but when the collective "we" wake up from our stupor and that percentage of the population that loves to tinker and fix and invent bumps up a few percentage points - then an already weakened corporate economy is going to be eaten up from below by black market products, local "unauthorized" production sites and all sorts of violations by what is currently referred to as intellectual property law.

The guilds have fallen, one by one, to the disintermediation that technology affords the common folks. As more and more turn their talents to using what they have on-hand to survive and thrive, watch for a huge hole to be blasted in current property laws, patent laws and the current methods of deriving income from licensing and sales. This has been coming for a long time and many are aware of the potential. That potential energy is going to be converted to kinetic energy as the Bear slashes away at the complacency induced by the old system.

Figure out where you are in the chain of production. Look at how you might get your butt disintermediated. Take action.

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