We take it for granted that making things easier is always a good thing. I disagree. Sometimes it is, while sometimes it isn’t. Today, I’ve been contemplating the case where maybe it’s good to make things harder.

Technology has made it so that anyone can produce music or publish books. This is a very good thing, in that it means people driven by the desire to do those things can now do them far more economically. But there’s a downside to technology that enables: it drives the supply of those goods up, without necessarily driving demand up. More supply without more demand means prices will fall. In both arenas—neither of which have been famous for paying creators very much money—we’re seeing so much content being created that it’s hard for anyone to make a living anymore. The very few who manage to rise above the fray capture most of the money, and everyone else has to work as a waiter to get by.

In some abstract way, this may be good for the consumer by giving the consumer more choice (though the book The Paradox of Choice discusses about a dozen reasons why more choice is not necessarily good). But there’s now so much noise in the market that matching that consumer with the perfect author/musician is harder than ever. Unless the musician/author is one of the winners with a huge marketing budget, the consumers will never find them.

There may actually be benefits to markets that are somewhat harder to enter. Fewer players enter, but the ones who do can make enough money to make a living, and the number of entrants is low enough that consumers can at least have a decent shot at discovering the product that’s best for them.

Is The Marketplace of Ideas Turning Into a Swamp?…

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