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Vinay Gupta @leashless
, 20 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
There's a funny thing I keep noticing. Really good stuff comes at two price points: *cheap* but you have to really do some digging, and 10x the price, and you just type it into google. Let me post a couple of examples in this short thread.
Fountain pens for a tenner… but it doesn't sing until you add… total system cost below £15, and writes as well as anything you're going to come across. But the supply chain is fragile. Edge of a trade network, wobbly shipping, comms.
Backpacks, compare… to… These things are *remarkably* similar in basic concept, if not in materials and execution. One of them is 15x the price of the other. But there's a sea of 1900 molle packs which are in that general format.
Other areas that are worth a look. Printers. Epson broke the printer ink cartel with the Ecotank printers… pennies a page for A3+ six ink printing. Just a jawdropping tool. Better than it has any right to be. And total system cost is a fraction of others.… is what you actually want, a combined package.
Now, here's the point. This is *market structure*. There's almost *always* a low cost, high quality alternative. Decathlon tents are far better than they have any right to be, for example. But the cheap-good option is always lost in a swamp of cheap-bad. The cheap bad could die.
Another example… compare to… so what's the fundamental different here? This isn't just about designer gouging on prices: these artefacts come from completely different processes. One is *planned economy* and the other is Darwinian.
The incredibly cool, cheap stuff is emerging from a sea of chaos, most of it is junk. Sometimes some smart person gets hold of that machinery and ships something *great*. The *designer* stuff is people who will always make great things, because they've got training, time, talent.
So this market structure is based around a *class* difference: the idea that a Skilled Professional has made a Worthy Object. Unless you've a massive design nerd (this is how I blow off steam from @Mattereum) you aren't ever going to find The Good One in the trash. Instead...
... Instead people look at the designer end, where there aren't 800 crap options and one good one, but 30 crap options and 5 good ones. Nobody is going to pay *that* much money to make a genuinely shit object, at least not many people. So the stuff tends to be Professionally Made
And this information asymmetry is, of course, a Lemon Market.

Now, why is this conceptually important? Well, ecologically it's just as expensive to manufacture crap as quality. We can do stuff right the first time. This is also poverty alleviation: well designed can be cheap.
This is where Design Blogs fit in - all those nerdy-as-hell review blogs telling you one of two stories: 1) A Professionally Made Artisanal Gadget is the one you want, or 2) Holy Shit have you seen how good this cheap thing is these days? Pro vs Amateur. Market navigation. Taste.
Kickstarter is a special case - the Designer Option but with the risk loaded on to the public. A ton of very good stuff is being made this way... by people who know how to market hard. Small changes in the market structure. Stuff that kinda works. See also
Now, the point of this. *IF* we had transparent supply chains, we could directly pick out the anonymous wizards behind Moonman pens or AI One bags, and these people could become the next Adidas or Parker. We just haven't let the market produce stars. Failure to identity talent.
And that skill - of making truly excellent things which can be mass manufactured cheaply - is going to be completely key to providing a Pretty Good lifestyle for nearly ten billion people later this century. Matter is too scarce to manufacture crap. @mattereum, when it grows up!
One more consideration, about standards.… The #Molle standard for strapping pockets on to bags and jackets is 20 years old. It's just how military kit works these days. It's also how you put a cup holder on your commuter backpack, only the industry refuses.
And this is where the designer and the crap ("quotidien") come together - the Chinese, and Kickstarter, will both sell you a backpack with Molle straps in any damn color you like, so you can customize *like a pro* - but you can't buy molle standard bags on the high street. Why?
Let me push this a little further. The #molle standard is at the top because it's what soldiers use, and is #tacticool. It appears at the bottom, because *everything* appears at the bottom. It's absent in the middle because they'd rather you bought a different bag than customize.
And this is the Missing Middle, where the vast amount of retail spending happens: busy people who can't take the time to learn buying mid-priced decent enough stuff at substantial mark ups, in malls. But that market is dying, and with work, we could get a vastly better online mkt
Final point on this: there are *quality* communities in every different field, from board games through to paper notebooks. These specialists exist, and they do output truth.

Wouldn't it be great if we could network them, and actually create some kind of master wiki of Quality?
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