Subject: Re: near/medium future digital media economics
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 22 May 2006 12:23:48 -0700

Santiago Gala <> writes:

> Is it true that things have value whether or not we actually use them?

Of course.  But there is no such thing as value independent of a
person who values it.  For objects which are widely bought and sold,
the market gives us an price averaged over many people, which we can
call a value.  For objects which are not bought and sold, the market
tells us nothing, and we have no obvious way to determine their price,
or their value.

To handle this sort of value, most economic models reach for tools
which ordinary people call "making stuff up."

When you see claims like "recycling does not make economic sense" one
normally finds that the value of having smaller landfills and the like
has been set to zero.

> Am I completely off base comparing the un-accountancy of intangibles
> like network connections with scarce (but not accounted) resources like
> air quality or biodiversity)

I think they are different kinds of things.  Network connections are
hard to measure.  Air quality is hard to assign a value to.