Animals and Economics

Why are we so obsessed with animal imagery to explain economic phenomenon?  Bulls and bears are the most prominent example, but there are also Asian Tigers, the Chinese Dragon, and more recent (and irritating) Indian elephant and African Cheetah Generation.  My guess is that these symbols are much easier to process than the complex realities that actually characterize economies.  Like hero narratives dominate popular understandings of history (“Gandhi led India to freedom”, “Lincoln freed the slaves”), current situations are also more digestible when presented in simple terms.

Interestingly, animal metaphors seem to be preferred over industrial or mechanical ones (Chinese Rocket Economy?).  Does this represent an acknowledgement that, these change processes are organic and unpredictable, not mechanized and standardizable?  Probably not, but I still like the thought.

Time for another poll!

There was a time before the internet.  Thankfully that time is now over (for the global elite anyway).

I was reading an article praising Wikipedia in the Economist and encountered the following thought provoking comment by the reader No Mist:

is there any alternative to WP ? as such WP is the single most valuable human creation on planet. it is indispensable … so much so that internet loses 90% of its importance if ever WP vanishes from the cyberworld.

And this from Lear21:

The hidden success of Wikipedia is the most underreported story of this decade. Forget Facebook, myspace, ebay and amazon. It is Wikipedia which enables mankind to use the internet in a noble manner.

I suggest that Mr. Jimmy Wales should be a candidate for either the Literature or Noble Peace Prize.

This got me thinking.  While I definitely use gmail, google and facebook very often, these are services/resources that are more easily replaceable (despite their inferiority, the Yahoo! and bing search engines seem capable of doing a lot of the same basic searches that Google does, etc).  As No Mist and Lear21 suggest, Wikipedia really does seem like a noble and incredible human achievement.

Anyway, this brings us to the second Kabcity Poll:

I have decided to ignore the thorny path of defining words like “better”, “greater than”, or “more important than” by using “>”.  Please vote!