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Sunday, 9.11.05:  Bazaar Economy

This morning I'm tired of being the mindless watcher of kitchen renovation. And, even though it's the 4th anniversary of 9/11, I'm not in the mood for a rant.

I was going through an old notebook and found a reference to an essay on the Moroccan bazaar by American anthropologist Clifford Geertz. He wrote a famous article on bazaar economy based on his studies in Morocco.

Sometimes there's comfort in knowing that ideas like "information management" did not emerge only with the dawn of the electronics age. Humans have always struggled with Too Much Information -- or I should say, the challenge of sorting out the tidbits of reliable, useful information in the ocean of words and blurring images.

I've been to bazaars in the Islamic world -- where sellers are grabbing at your sleeves, offering you tea, and blurting out lines of patter about the quality and rarity of their merchandise. It's dizzying.

But people in traditional cultures have no problems with the bazaar. The information is admittedly too chaotic and unreliable for any kind of logical comparison shopping based on product or price. Merchants work hard to get the highest prices possible. Buyers work hard to get the lowest prices and the best quality goods. Information and misinformation is used as needed by both parties as they fiercely bargain with one another.

it's who you know that makes a difference in what you know.

Today you hear customers and suppliers referred to as "partners," who can form an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship. Geertz calls them "adversaries" in the world of the bazaar.

The central paradox of bazaar exchange is that advantage stems from surrounding oneself with relatively superior communication links [the merchants you do repeat business with], links themselves forged in sharply antagonistic interaction in which information imbalances are the driving force and their exploitation the end.

In other words, they discovered the concept: it's who you know, over the long haul, that makes a difference in what you know when you go to spend your money. And maybe the ideas are linked to that other axiom: the enemies you know are preferable to the ones you don't

Okay, I'm done with my intellectual work for the day.

Kitchen. Work completed on Day 6 -- lights:





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