Memories in the (Disintermediated) Making
Several years ago, the prevalent term of ‘business art’ was ‘disintermediation.’ I heard it first in a series of meetings about health care and life insurance and it heralded the demise of the traditional agent. We all know how that story has and continues to play out: Zenefits, anyone?
I am put in mind of the term again by my recent Christmas card order, via Shutterfly.com, my go-to repository for nearly every photo ever taken of my daughter in her 17-years thus far. The order went in and pretty soon the package arrived. The envelopes had the correct return address. The cards themselves had the pictures and inscription done precisely as I had designed it. Where once our cards would have been a boxed set from a local card shop, or a far more expensive custom printing job from a local printing firm, whoosh! here it was. Custom stamps, as well.
But then, what to my wondering eyes should appear but something else in the bright orange envelope. Upon closer inspection: Envelope liners. I had asked for the envelopes to be lined and had picked out the design, as well. But, I was now being asked to insert and seal the liners myself. Something of a surprise.
At first, I was irritated, I have to admit. But, as I went through a once-a-year evening ritual of addressing the cards, writing notes and, yes, affixing the liners, something very Esty, very craftsy, very charming, bespoke, even homemade took hold. As I worked, I watched the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice (via Amazon Prime, where I am my own network programmer) and caught myself doing something, well, handy, if not quite needlepoint, along with the characters. I awaited the opportunity to plate the GrubHub delivery of two very different dinners for my daughter and me. I wondered anew at the disintermediated world as it is evolving. Is the challenge for new product development to figure out today’s equivalent of adding my egg to the cake mix?