The Disintermediation of New Technologies

In economics, disintermediation is the removal of intermediaries in a supply chain. Disintermediation is often the result of high market transparency, in that buyers are aware of supply prices direct from the manufacturer. As a result, buyers bypass the middlemen (wholesalers and retailers) in order to buy directly from the manufacturer and thereby pay less. Buyers can alternatively elect to purchase from wholesalers, but most often, a buyer-to-consumer intermediary functions as the bridge between buyer and manufacturer. A few years ago, scholars wrote that the Internet would "disintermediate" industries or eliminate middlemen. Instead, the lower cost of selling over the Net and its immense appeal have produced even more middlemen, which helps explain the success of the search giant Google and the online marketplace eBay.

Technology offers a vast variety of different choices to the end user and the social implications of their adoption create the appropriate atmosphere for people to debate their usefulness and consequences. But whether one is a supporter or an opponent of this technological evolution, the new reality introduced by the adopted technologies surpassed the creators' intentions and emerged into this new "real" world in which relationships evolve, people exchange information, work or even develop themselves as citizens. At the same time, word abbreviations, images, Avatars, icon-bars, virtual reality games or weblogs, are some of the multiple ways with which new technologies have altered the way people interact and have managed to create new subcultures and representations of reality. The adopters of these communication methods relate heavily on the existence and improvement of the used medium, as it must continue to incorporate the advances of other practices and continuously be updated.

Since these recently adopted technology-based practices experience tremendous success, especially among young user groups, their adoption entails opportunities and threats similar to their predecessors. Contemporary technology evangelists support the proliferation of technological innovations, along with the extensive usage of these new types of technologies, ideally by the whole world, in order to satisfy the human quest for interconnectivity and belongingness. On the other hand, opponents of this view suggest that these technological breakthroughs are just another type of "imprisonment" and that will further reduce leisure time, decrease direct face-to-face contact, and will create human "islands."

Evaluating the effects of changing communication forms and the development of additional channels over the recent years, along with how these developments have altered one's understanding about oneself, has been the topic of research in a variety of studies. Human history is full of numerous examples of clash and integration through which a more advanced synthesis was born. Thus, the issue remains not to cease the questioning and the criticism so as to avoid the uncomfortable "battle zone," but rather to use this criticism constructively and examine the new technological evolutions under the scope that they actually constitute the new tools to evaluate the future implications of today's human praxis.