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Pistons and Windmills


But I don't want to stray too far from windmills and pistons. As with nearly everything, neither is inherently better; each is enabling or disabling, better or worse for given situations.

In a conventional brick and mortar sales business situation a piston model makes complete sense. The inventory is finite and needs to be contained. If I am running a car dealership I can only afford a certain amount of cars because each car costs money and each car costs money because each and every one requires effort and material to make. Information is different since it is not material. You make a movie once and it costs the same amount of money whether it has a million views or two.

The big difference to note is that what I want from a material thing is displaced if someone else is using it. If I buy a car and drive off where I want to go, I am preventing you from doing what you would buy that car for: driving where you want to go. However if the two of us go to a movie, we can buy two tickets, sit next to each other and both enjoy the movie because one person seeing a movie does not negate another person from seeing it. My windmill does not prevent my neighbor's windmill from turning on the same gust of wind, but if I burned a gallon of gas in my engine, he couldn't burn the same gallon of gas in his engine.

This difference is hardly new. It's been around as long as information has been and is why we have libraries. Libraries (books) are repositories for information and as we discussed one person using a book for what we want a book for (reading it) does not negate someone else from doing the same thing. I can read a book and then give it to the next person who can also read it. This is why libraries check-out books and even music and movies but not material merchandise. After all once I've eaten a hot dog it does not perform the same function for the next person, which is why I suspect "Books on food" is in the Dewey decimal system but not food itself.

Needless to say this does demonstrate that there is a gray area: Renting. Renting is where you pay for the use of something and then when your need of it has passed and it still has the capacity to perform its function, it's given to the next person. This is "Gray" in that is a mix of 2 sides. For the business of material items you aren't really selling the item any more, you are selling the time to use the material item. For information you can sell the time to use the item (read/ watch/ listen/ experience) by renting the analog object or selling a ticket to the time of the performance. But in both of these situations, material and information, you are no longer selling the object you're selling the time of use. And time is strange because it's unlimited but yet not infinite. As in an hour isn't limited to being sold once per unit but it is limited to being sold once per hour. As such rentals are treated like pistons because they are finite, even though the object maybe infinite.




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