Not a very fun night. Got moderately unwarm. The weather beavers once more overestimated the minimum temperature. They have a long way to go in rebuilding trust. A VERY long way. And apparently no effort in that direction.
The brrrrrrrrrrrrr gave me occasion to contemplate the value of the internet some more. From its beginning – once it got out of the direct control of the Yankee government – it has engaged in commerce. In fact, even accessing it is a matter of commerce. So the question must be addressed: is internet commerce beneficial?
Note that this is not an efficiency question, nor it is a cost question. Efficiency in the marketplace has always been a question relevant to suppliers not demanders. Customers are never efficient, only gullible. And any savings enjoyed – apparently – by customers is irrelevant since only profit is a meaningful metric.
On this basis it is very hard to make a telling argument that internet commerce has social value. There were marketplace transport arcs and market nodes prior to the internet. If the internet were to go away these or equivalent arcs and nodes would reappear. So the transport aspects of the internet are not relevant to the question.
Except, from the standpoint of centralization. In much the same way as MalWart, excessive centralization is a negative. It depletes communities of their survivability by destroying their local economies and it makes them fragile when disaster occurs by removing local concentrations of goods and services. So in this sense, the internet is an overall negative. At least from a commerce standpoint.
We do have to consider whether the diversity of goods offered on the internet is a good. This is a bit denser. Unless the thing offered is a survival thing, the diversity is irrelevant. And we have to argue that if that survival thing had not been available in the local marketplace pre-internet, then those who needed it would have found a conventional source or lived elsewhere. But since it is now available on the internet, it adds to the increased fragility of the local environment and hence is actually a negative.
In summary, the internet of goods is a negative value. So our search has to proceed.