#97 July 1996
Section 188.8.131.52.097.of the Artemis Data Book
Peter Kokh[Conclusion to the current MMM Series: " In the (new) Beginning ... (Starting over on the Moon]
Here are three additional pieces continuing this web-thread of thought for you this month. While we are sure that these as well will still not have exhausted the ways in which the Lunan character will inevitably be shaped by the physical nature of this brave and raw new world. But any other cultural aspects with environment-based underpinnings we might detect will be deferred for future discussion.
"SMALL MARKET SYNDROME": The Quest for VARIETY
Relevant Readings from Back Issues of MMM
MMM # 3 MAR '87, "Moon Mall"
MMM # 13 MAR '88, "Apparel"
MMM # 18, SEP '88, "Industrial M.U.S./c.l.e."
MMM # 22, FEB '89, p 6, "Hair"
MMM # 26 JUN '89, p 4, "Toy Chest"
MMM # 29 OCT '89 "The Role of Cottage Industries"
MMM # 32 FEB '90 pp 3-5 "Import/Export Equation"
MMM # 24 APR '91, pp 5-6, "The Fourth 'R'"
MMM # 65 MAY '93, p 3 "The Substitution Game";
MMM # 65 MAY '93, p 7 "Fast Road to Industrial M.U.S./c.l.e.";
MMM # 65 MAY '93, pp 8-9 "Stowaway Imports"
MMM # 68 SEP '93, p. 3, "Cornucopia Crops"
MMM # 77 JUL '94, pp 4-5 "Cinderella Style"; "Furniture"
MMM # 85 MAY '95, p 1 "Safety Valve ..."
I'll never forget an experience as a fresh high school graduate of seventeen, browsing through the Hudson's Bay Company department store in Calgary, Alberta. The variety of goods seemed much greater than that at similar stores in my native Milwaukee. Here were to be found samplings of wears and wares from all the domains of the British Commonwealth, as diversified a market potluck of humanity as has ever existed.
On the Moon, shoppers are likely, at least in the early years, to have an experience just the opposite. Imported goods will be all but non-existent and the exceptions will be prohibitively, obscenely expensive. The lunar domestic market will have to rely on its own resources primarily, other space-based markets eventually contributing their own offerings in trade.
"Small Market Syndrome" we might call it. Few people making few products to sell to few people. How do we avoid the expected consequence: little choice, little variety?
Or the diverse style elements can be preprogrammed to come into play in random combinations, one after the other (as lottery numbers are now stamped on the inside bottom of soda cans for example) Such "kaleidoscopic variegated product machines" could cheaply supply a significant range of individually distinctive items even for small markets. The variegation in each instance would be confined to a set and recognizable "family character" range (given available styling elements, available materials, available colorants, etc.) within domestically supportable resource and feedstock limits without regard for the size of the domestic market. It may be possible to keep track by computer of the kaleidoscopic formula or setting for each individual piece so that patterns could effectively be saved to reproduce on request designs meeting special customer favor.
While this is a slower, more labor-intensive method of introducing custom variety (than by way of the kaleidoscope machine), the results may (no guarantee) produce more artisti-cally pleasing results, and the only way of producing non-random designs. Those who especially appreciate the hand-crafted and individually designed product may be willing to pay the extra price. But whence the artists and craftsmen?
Almost everyone will have a daytime job producing something essential for domestic or export markets, and for some time the bulk of art and craft may be executed in after hours spare time cottage industry style. Nonetheless, the demand may be so great that this need for variety in modern history's smallest market may well serve to usher in a "Golden Age" for artists and craftsmen quite without precedent.
We should also see the rise of an unprecedented number of amateur "do-it-yourself" artists and craftsmen principally finishing consumer goods for themselves, and perhaps as gifts for family and other loved ones. To serve this need, various unfinished product lines could be marketed with finishing kits, samples, suggestions, and useful tips. The enterprising factory might even have an area where customers can bring in their purchases to finish in factory supplied facilities using factory supplied materials and tools. This will be an especially economical and popular choice.
Domestic product lines it may become popular to customize are dishes (tableware), ceramic planters, furniture items, clothing items and ensembles, bed linens (in a factory furnished dying facility) and the like. Personalization and custom expression areas outside the home may include product lines that can be customized for entryways opening on pressurized streets, surface shield-roofs, and vehicles.
The subject of customizable "issue" furniture was discussed in MMM # 77 [reference above].
But more basic than that will be differences in the suites of available inorganic materials. For the primary reason for establishment of additional outposts, at least early on, will be to exploit diversely endowed natural local environments. Thus a highland settlement will inevitably produce differently designed and styled goods from a mid-mare or coastal settlement to give one obvious example. While raw materials will certainly be traded among settlements, it would be natural for local artists and craftsman to rely primarily on locally available materials. Trade between settlements then will be as brisk in value-added artist and craftsman finished goods of locally distinctive flavor as it may be in raw materials.
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto