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What is false scarcity?

Here are a few examples of false scarcity:

  • Pop music.  For as long as radio has been around, there has been little to no real distribution of music.  Why? Well, radio was (and still is) based on a top-down medium.  Crowdsourced services like Last.fm, Pandora, and, to an extent, MySpace, have proved success and have finally found real markets to serve.  For proof, check out Last.fm’s blog post of Most Unwanted Scrobbles. Talk about a false scarcity for music.
  • Energy.  Of course.  What is more top-down than the OPEC mafia? I really do not believe how they can set the prices they set for their markets.  It seems as if real-time supply and demand are at their fingertips, when it really isn’t. Furthermore, innovation for new sources of energy were stifled throughout much of the 20th century (ahem, car companies, et al.).
  • News.  I’m not talking about investigative journalism (which can be scarce at times), but the other 90% that occurs in our daily lives.
  • Currency.  Douglas Rushkoff (when can’t I not quote him in a blog post?), brings up great historical truths about economies of abundance that existed in the mythical “Dark Ages”.  It wasn’t until after the Aristocracy gave the merchant-class bourgeoisie titles to industries that currency became scarce…falsely.

There are more (diamonds, transportation, etc.), but thank goodness we have something that helps alleviate this problem left over from the Renaissance.  Collaboration will almost always trump any false economic models.


  1. Individualism is an out-of-touch PR term « Matt Reyes · July 27, 2009

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