Monday, September 6, 2010

The Invisible Hand

One of the problems with free market economics is that the logical consequences depend on the distributions of supply and demand operating with the assumption of perfect information availability. The thought was that in the marketplace the true value of a good would be reached based on customers purchasing the fairest available price amongst various vendors. There are various unacceptable assumptions here and it is easy to think of situations that break that economy; perhaps the most obvious is the monopoly, but there's all the related phenomena: vertical and horizontal integration, price fixing and collusion, all the emergence of market forces no longer subject to the invisible hand. These emergent forces are to be abhorred because, as it turns out, corporate greed or the pursuit of profit at any cost turns out to be an unfun way to traverse time and transcend our animalistic consciousnesses. In my humble opinion, the purpose of industry should be to expand the sentience and influence of life in all forms; all of us brothers and sisters, how much would we gain if we learned to overcome our trivial squabbles and join together to explore the universe? I can not even imagine the wealth that might be had by all of us if our daily lives were dedicated to the betterment of life on earth instead of increasing the numbers on a bank slip.

But I digress.

The notion of perfect information distribution is these days more conceivable than ever before, but at the same time the actual effectiveness of information dispersal is far less than ideal. For instance, I had reasoned for some time that the sundry AC/DC adapters loathingly known as wall warts should be very low cost, and that the many different device side plugs and form factors were facades constructed to trick people into thinking the differences actually mattered. This artificial sophistication can be very profitable--given the customer assuming that only the OEM wall wart will work, Accme Laptops can charge a minor fortune for a replacement. Arguably worse is when Accme introduces the proprietary copyright protected uPlug, which can be purchased from Accme alone.

I had for some time been unable to find this mythical PSU, so it was with pleasure that I finally found a versatile and cheap DC power supply in a small store known as linked through Adafruit Industries. I am impressed by Adafruit, because instead of trying to sell me individually packaged LEDs for hyperinflated prices (that also just happen to be on sale for a short time only), they simply pointed me to a good direct source for LEDs and a handful of other cool items. I feel as though more than just myself will benefit from this openness, for reasons that will almost certainly be documented here shortly.

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