Rick Falkvinge: 2013 List Of Stone Dead Industries

Commerce, Commercial Intelligence, Ineptitude, IO Impotency, Media
Rickard Falkvinge
Rickard Falkvinge

Rick Falkvinge’s 2013 List Of Stone Dead Industries

Infopolicy:  There is a number of industries today that are already obsolete, kept alive by sheer inertia or by political subsidies. Many politicians, in an attempt to “save jobs”, are foolishly taking resources from new, viable industries and giving to these obsolete ones. “Saving jobs” in this context means that politicians are rejecting ways of producing the same level of output with a much more competitive and cost-efficient method, and is not to be applauded at all.

Roses-on-coffin-by-blmurch-at-flickr-CCBYThe first and most obvious victim industry of the internet was the postal industry, the kind that delivered physical letters. When people want to communicate today, they don’t put ink to paper. Out of sheer inertia, bills and governmental correspondence are still being delivered using this method, but everybody else has moved on. Parcel couriers that ship physical objects live on for the time being, but are threatened by 3D printing.

A stone dead industry is the telecom industry, specifically including cellphone subscriptions, despite still employing hundreds of thousands of people. I don’t think I have to motivate why landline phones are dead, dead, dead as a doornail, but cellphones that operate on telecom industry standards are equally on the fast track to extinction. How can we know this? It’s trivial to observe: in Africa, cities are being blanketed with wi-fi (only wi-fi, not mobile cellphone coverage) today at the approximate cost of a bag of candy and two shoestrings, whereas rolling out 3G or 4G would cost an arm and a leg. New phones in that area of the planet don’t need the telecom industry chips any longer – they use wi-fi and Viber, Skype, WhatsApp, and similar free communications. The entire telecom industry has been sidelined and obsoleted as soon as there wasn’t legacy to consider. (This is not to say that residential broadband is dead – but the national telecom near-monopolies bought the early ISPs basically to prevent residential broadband from reaching its potential, seeing how it is this described threat to the legacy telecom industry; do not conflate residential broadband, which is the Internet, with the telecom industry technology, which is something different and obsolete.)

Another stone dead industry is cable and broadcast television. When my parents tell me they are going to watch the “nine o’clock news”, because they “want to know what happened today”, I am just dumbstruck. The entire idea of adapting to somebody else’s schedule to be force-fed passive entertainment is gone, gone, gone.

On a similar note, the entire copyright industry is not going to exist in a few decades. This industry has significant inertia and lobbying power, and have managed to essentially legislate their place in the market, but the idea that a distribution monopoly is required to get any culture and knowledge produced has been proven laughably incorrect with the advent of the Internet. The entire industry is ridiculously obsolete.

A different tune is the credit card industry, killed in one swoop by bitcoin. Ask a merchant, any merchant, if they’d like to get their money right the second of the transaction instead of having to wait for 30-90 days, and not pay any 3-5% in credit card fees, and they’ll respond with a “where the f*ck do I sign up!?”. These savings will initially be a competitive advantage for merchants who use bitcoin, able to pass some of the savings on to lower prices, and this will soon outcompete merchants who accept credit cards. The entire credit card concept is dead, dead, dead. It won’t exist in ten years – credit cards will be just as obsolete as landline phones.

Same thing with the banking industry, which has miraculously been able to charge us $50-$100 for the mere service of keeping an account balance in a database for us and managing a few transactions a day at most. Thanks, but we can do that ourselves now. Banks are obsolete. (Compare the complexity of this service with, say, Google: searching through all documents published anywhere in the world by all of humanity, in an instant, for free. That puts things in perspective.)

Last but not least, the newspaper industry is ridiculously obsolete. Authentic conversation a few years ago: “What is this?” – “It’s a printout of a news site. Apparently, they print the entire site once a day in several thousand copies.” – “Oh. Why do they do that?” – “I have no idea, really.”