At this moment in Germany, perhaps the very last “department store” chain is on the verge of bankruptcy. That isn’t very remarkable — unless you consider that the business model is essentially the same as the business model which is replacing it: Amazon is basically a department store. The main advance in technology introduced by Amazon is the integration of spyware (i.e., measurement, data science, etc.) into each & every step of the store’s procedures.
About a decade ago, I asked a question on one of the most popular platforms for questions (and answers), Quora. Actually, back then I asked several questions, including a question about whether “quora” could be considered to be the plural form of “quorum”. Many of my questions were moderately controversial. The question I am referring to here had to do with whether Google could be considered to be the Pope of the Internet. There were several quite adamant opinions expressed — my favorite comment was one which stated that the Pope offers free bread and wine, but Google doesn’t. The link seems to be here: http://www.quora.com/How-is-trust-in-Google-similar-to-or-different-than-trusting-the-Pope — CAUTION: in my humble opinion, this site is also heavily laden with spyware (which is one of the reasons I no longer use it [very much 😉 ] ).
Throughout most of my life (at least: so far 😉 ), marketplaces were central. They were the places where people meet. Oddly, while at one marketplace, I never thought very much about other marketplaces. I bought my apples here, chatted with local people, perhaps friends or acquaintances, waved hello and goodbye. Not each and every town has a marketplace, but bigger towns might, and large cities may have several, perhaps even every day of the week. Oddly, I have yet to see one in America. There, the automobile has pretty much completely annihilated foot traffic.
I very strongly doubt that Amazon or Google will ever control the entire world. I often get quite upset and concerned about how many people trust Google the way people might have trusted Popes in previous centuries — especially considering how manipulative both of those institutions have been at times (see e.g. “Google Campaigns Against Donald Trump’s Re-Election in 2020 Campaign as President of USA (vs Joe Biden)” [ https://campaign.politics.blog/2020/11/14/google-campaigns-against-donald-trumps-re-election-in-2020-campaign-as-president-of-usa-vs-joe-biden-2020 ] ).
The thought I am pondering this morning, however, is the other side of this coin: What is the risk of decentralization? I think perhaps the greatest risk is that there might be several localized optima, and these optima might become so path-dependent that they become the “most efficient” solutions for only very specific constraints — for example: automobile technology in the situation of plentiful supplies of fossil fuels, lack of “climate change” (or “global warming” or whatever), etc.. For such extreme situations, humanity seems to require guidance … be that from a Pope or from a printing press, whether from pure logic or from playing dice.
Speaking of which: I have an odd hunch that we should consider ourselves quite lucky if we survive long enough to be wiped out by an asteroid. Yet more currently, I’m guessing that marketplaces today no longer exist entirely independent of one another, and that over the time we still have left, there will be not only increasing competition among marketplaces, but also an increasing degree of rationality (and also a decreasing degree of smoke and mirrors) influencing human behavior … leading to more rational choices (ergo: more “rational media” [see also “Hope & Change: Flipping the F-word & Removing the old-fashioned R-word” https://remediary.com/2020/11/06/hope-change-flipping-the-f-word-removing-the-old-fashioned-r-word ]).