The other day I had to take my computer in to an expert for tune-up. I had all the usual onboard – an antivirus, anti-spyware software, etc. But the machine was running very, very slowly.
The expert I took it to cleaned out a lot of malware, removed my old anti-virus and anti-malware software, and installed new stuff. He swears by this stuff, and so far, my machine is working much better than it was before.
But here’s the thing… the previous set of anti-virus and anti-malware had been highly recommended just a few years by PC Magazine and CNET users and other similar sources. I know, because that’s why I installed those programs in the first place.
Which leads me to believe that in a couple of years, I should go through the process of investigating anti-virus and anti-malware software again. It seems, in fact, one’s choices with computers come to this:
1. Live with a machine that gets slower and slower and slower…
2. Periodically go through the effort of investigating anti-virus and anti-malware software, making sure that the stuff you use continues to be highly rated and effective.
3. Pay someone else to engage in number 2 for you.
4. Pick an operating system that is unpopular enough that it isn’t targeted by malicious software and deal with its foibles. Also, switch to another unpopular OS if the one you’re using starts becoming popular enough to attract the attention of malicious individuals.
That’s a lot of time and attention one has to go through simply to use a piece of equipment that is now required to do business in much of the world, and even after going through the time and effort, there is no way to know whether the product you are purchasing (or not) is the best one available for the price. Put another way – the outcome of this market is not one most of us would consider efficient.
And yet, the market seems to be characterised by most of the factors that a libertarian or conservative economist look for to produce an optimal outcome. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to enter and exit the market for anti-bad things software, the market is literally global (you can buy software made anywhere and download it from your desk in minutes), the cost of such products is low (many are given away free), there’s a heck of a lot of information out there, and there’s virtually no government involvement in the process.
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