“The thing I hate the most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative and ambitious young people, leaving us mainly with the slow and self-obsessed to become our artists.. Modern art is a disaster area. Never in the field of human history has so much been used by so many to say so little.”
- Banksy, AdBusters interview backintheday
The issue is not that these choices are available, the issue is that these choices crowd out the sensible ones. There's a lot of fallacious product design in toothbrushes. At the same time, it makes sense to apply what we know about dental hygiene to what we know about human habit to what we know about materials science to what we know about merchandising because even an expensive toothbrush is what? $4? $5? That's before you get into the land of Sonicare and its ilk and there are justifications to that, too. I have a $140 toothbrush. It was recommended to me by my dentist over my $100 toothbrush because apparently I was brushing hard enough to require some repair at the gumline to the tune of $900 billed to my insurance. The difference? The new one tweedles at me when I brush too hard. First world problems? You betcha. Asymptotic improvement? Mos def. BUT it is innovation in pursuit of improvement.
Dollar shave club, on the other hand, doesn't help you shave better. What it does is provide you access to bottom-of-the-barrel no-name Chinese blades at substantial markup to you. Yeah - a bag of Bic safety razors is like $3 for 24 or whatever so obviously you don't have to purchase that, either, but Unilever spent a billion dollars buying Dollar Shave Club instead of, I dunno, making better razors.
Lather, rinse, repeat. You rightly state that you are not directly impacted by any of these deeply silly Silicon Valley choices but you are indirectly affected. As you state, you're a fan of Blue Apron - what if Silicon Valley spent $120m on improving the efficiency of produce delivery to wherever you are instead of $120m on ways to sell chopped fruits and vegetables for $10/lb?
Henry Petroski has argued many times that necessity isn't the mother of invention, luxury is - we do not invent a fork because we cannot eat without one, we invent a fork because it's easier to eat with one. The inventor/manufacturer profits off of the increase of ease he provides us, and we pay him gladly. The argument put forth in the article (not as clearly as it could be, no doubt) is that the Silicon Valley business cycle is not focused on efficiency, it's focused on inefficiency and predation. And while this is not universally true, the argument for "disruption" is not "make the world a better place" it's "break laws and make money until they legislate you out of existence."
I have thousands of hours of music on hard drives. I used to have hundreds of CDs. My access to music went up an order of magnitude with the advent of Napster... but I can't really say that MP3s improved the state of music. It used to be that technological innovation was largely in pursuit of quality-of-life improvement and that argument could easily be made about Napster et.al. However, the inefficiencies of the music market also provided a living for most of the people involved in its generation.
And that's another issue - companies like RentBerry and Fiverr are, at base, eliminating inefficiencies. However, in a marketplace that's even a little unfair or uncompetitive, "inefficiencies" are often the profit of the disadvantaged. On a perfectly level playing field, assembly line workers in Detroit should have no problems competing with assembly line workers in Guadalajara.
This article is annoying because it stands on the premise that someone offering a choice to you is the same as you being forced to participate, and that a choice you don't agree with is somehow this nefarious plot to screw your life up. Fiverr doesn't exist to destroy the middle class dream. It connects freelancers with people who hire them.
Hi. Freelancer. Years of experience. Union member, skilled laborer. And where I work, the middle has dropped out. I'm one of the youngest people in my industry that I know of and my 20-year reunion was a while ago. See, used to be you started out as a gopher PA and then you became a set PA and then you picked up a skill and then you started making a little money and your network grew and you started making more money and eventually you had a wife and two kids and a house in the Valley. But now there's a sea of film school grads who can work for free because mommy and daddy understand that you have to do that for a while in order to get experience so they'll pay Janie's $1900/mo rent for a studio in Panorama City while she struggles for free until eventually it becomes clear that as soon as she starts to ask for money there's ten more Janies eager to take her place so eventually she's going to go back to live with her parents in Dayton and take orders at Applebee's while meanwhile, the guys that are actually hiring new kids who don't know what they're doing are generally doing it with their parents' money, too, and they're going to fail out within however long it takes for their folx to get sick of paying for their hobbies and in the meantime, we're all getting older and we're all hanging on to the gigs we have and the kids? The kids are not coming up because the opportunities that are available to them are a mirage.
Make no mistake. I'm the other side of that divide. Comfortably. But the gig economy, in my industry at least, is a fucking meat grinder for those without protections. Multiply times everything.