Thursday, July 23, 2009


Our economies are based upon the principle of scarcity. The thing you want is rare and therefore has an assigned value. Whatever it is, you use it sparingly because you know you don't want to have to run out again and buy it tomorrow. The higher the value the greater the scarcity. Right?

But there are interesting places I've come across where supposedly rare things don't seem rare. If you work in an industry, the thing that your industry produces and gets good money for out in the world, might seem almost valueless when you see it stacked up in a warehouse in bulk. On a smaller scale the supplies closet in a corporate office is another place where scarcity and value don't seem to apply. I call these areas Places of No Observable Value. PLONOVs.

PLONOVs are important because they remind us of the abstract nature of our value system. I know people who spend their lives situating themselves in high end PLONOV environments. They bask in the illusion that they live outside the "common" value system and that they are entitled to free luxury. I also know people who would never steal a paper clip from their office. I'm not sure who's right or who's winning.

(photo by Bruno Dayan)


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