Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting




Teetering on the Edge…

How far can you lean over the edge of a cliff before you lose your balance and fall off?  If you’re a foolish show-off, you might overdo your bravado and take a fatal tumble.  If you’re not quite so foolish but want to see what’s below, you might approach with more caution.  In that case you would likely not have a problem unless an unforeseen event occurs such as a rock that is not as solid as you thought and gives way under your feet.  Or maybe you just have a momentary dizzy spell, or a gust of wind suddenly comes up. 

Since the consequences of an error in this situation are so serious, a prudent approach would be to have some back-up plan should any of these even remote situations materialize.  Perhaps a safety harness would be appropriate if one really wants to see what’s at the bottom of that canyon.  Or maybe we decide that seeing what’s at the bottom is really not all that important to us. 

Have you noticed that we are all experiencing more and more of this “edge teetering” approach in many of our every day life events?  It’s not that we have suddenly become stupidly foolish; these scary risks are being imposed on us by others.  Consider the following three examples.

I spend a considerable amount of my time traveling by air.  In order to make a reasonable profit the airlines have decided to book each flight to full capacity.  And often the flights are overbooked.  That is all well and good as long as there are no “unexpected” events such as weather or a mechanical problem.  But are these “unexpected” events really unexpected?   Well, no.  They are simply not precisely predicable.  So what happens when such an event does take place – as happened to me on two legs of my recent four-segment trip.  Basically, what should have been a routine situation turned into total chaos.  Because all flights are booked to capacity where do you suddenly put 200 people that now have no airplane to use?   Even as a premium customer my chances of getting to my destination later that day or even on the same day are not always good.  The stress created by this level of uncertainty is not quite like falling off a cliff but it’s still not the healthiest way to spend a good part of a day.  The quest for profit maximization by the airline industry has put customers in a high-risk situation from which it is difficult to recover.  Every time we travel we are “teetering on the edge”.   

Consider another common everyday situation – your credit cards and any on-line financial transaction that you may make.  The banks and businesses are pushing us to do almost everything electronically “on-line”.  Pay our bills, get our bank statements, make our purchases, and provide all of our confidential information.  Yet this entire system assumes that nothing can go wrong.  But it does -- and with great regularity.  Not only are our personal computers vulnerable, there seems to be no limit to where hackers can infiltrate and steal our most important personal information – the very information on which this electronic transaction system relies.  In order to maximize our use of electronic transactions the financial institutions are willing to step ever closer to the edge of the cliff so as to milk every last dollar in profits.  Some have already experienced a serious fall off the edge and it will not take much of a push to cause a disastrous fall for a few more.  The drive for convenience and profit maximization is overcoming more measured and prudent approaches that would allow for more of a safety margin. 

As a final example, consider our own field of electronic devices.  All those wonderful gadgets we are now so in love with are currently being manufactured in factories that are pushing workers to the very limits of human endurance – and beyond.  They are being required to work twelve-hour days and to live in company provided dormitories.  They basically have no other life.  And that is not sustainable.  We have already seen threats of mass suicides if conditions are not improved.  Again, in the desire to maximize profits and to outdo the competition all thoughts of prudence and safety have been abandoned for short term financial gain. 

The interesting question is what will happen as we continue this behavior?  What will be the consequences when one or more of these situations goes beyond the teetering point?  Perhaps the world economy is now so interconnected that we are reaching the saturation point and we won’t see a major crises – or maybe we will.  The search for ever-cheaper manufacturing facilities has reached its limits.  There are no new places left to discover. 

Nevertheless, in the next few years we can expect to see at least a few spectacular tumbles off a cliff or two.  The banking and housing crises that we witnessed a few years ago were most likely just a sampling of what else we might encounter if we ignore the dangers of “teetering on the edge”.  We in the display community are not immune to these events.  These system-wide instabilities can impact us as well.  We may not be able to fix the rest of the world, but we should try to be as prudent as we know how in both our business and personal lives.  But no matter what we do, we can expect the next decade to be an interesting and colorful one.    

Should you have some thoughts about how you are managing your “life on the edge” you may reach me directly from this site, by e-mail at, or by telephone at 425-898-9117.                   


19916 NE 30th Ct. Sammamish, WA 98074 Call 425.898.9117

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