Disintermediation

Article
Preston Brown

20 days ago by prestonbrown

Previously in my post Paywalls are Stupid, I kind of touched on the idea of disintermediation in relation to social media - as social media transitions away from a service in the cloud, to software that represents itself more like a tool. In essence, disintermediation means a transition away from middlemen and intermediary services. With technologies like Bitcoin offering peer-to-peer transactions, the primary goal is to get rid of middlemen in the form of banks and states. In fact, any peer-to-peer technology represents “disintermediation” in effect. This process of getting rid of middlemen has the effect of also increasing the individual liberty of people who utililize the technology.

Even the free market’s greatest proponents were weary of cronyism and large corporations. One such thinker was Based Adam Smith:

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. - Smith, Wealth of Nations.

Though this quote is often misconstrued by anti-capitalists as being a critique on many kinds of private enterprise, used to justify anti-trust and regulation, opponents need only read the next couple of lines for more context from Smith:

It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. - Smith, Wealth of Nations.

There is still a point to be made here though, that the powers that be are only ever concerned with the powers that be. Smith was rightly skeptical of great concentrations of wealth, as it distorts the market’s ability to natrually discover value. Smith was interested in the capitalism of individuals, not the feudalism of corporations.

Without the rule of law to prevent such meetings, what is left to do? The answer is simple: disintermediation. There can be no corporate fact-checking and censorship if the base protocols we communitcate and share with perform the same functions as the Facebook Corporation. There are no emails and IP’s to turn over to opressive state actors when there are no intermediary servers for those emails to live on. There are no advertisers to broadcast on top of your content, or for content providers like Twitch to tax you 50% of every dollar you earn. There are no centralized software distributors like Apple, roleplaying as the Walmart of iOS - instituting insane licensing fees and skimming nearly 30% off the top of even their smallest creators earnings.

When the third-party interests of middlemen are gone, what is left is the self-interest of the individual.