Tuesday, March 05, 2013

I, Coke

Everyone ought to be familiar with Leonard Read's I, Pencil, the story of the incredibly complex web of human interaction and knowledge that goes into something as mundane as an ordinary #2 pencil.

I say everybody ought to read it because the world is more beautiful and people are more awe-inspiring when we recognize the everyday objects and occurrences that are, frankly, miracles (or as Steve Horwitz would put it, "marvels") given how many ideas and goals of people all over the world have gone into them.

Medium.com has published a similar story for a can of Coca-Cola that beautifully captures once again the global interconnectedness that we experience every day through the use and consumption of everyday objects. From the piece:
The number of individuals who know how to make a can of Coke is zero. The number of individual nations that could produce a can of Coke is zero. This famously American product is not American at all. Invention and creation is something we are all in together. Modern tool chains are so long and complex that they bind us into one people and one planet. They are not only chains of tools, they are also chains of minds: local and foreign, ancient and modern, living and dead — the result of disparate invention and intelligence distributed over time and space. Coca-Cola did not teach the world to sing, no matter what its commercials suggest, yet every can of Coke contains humanity’s choir.
Even if you choose to shut your eyes and see nothing of the magic of market coordination in it, the story of how a can of Coke gets to a grocery store is pretty cool. (Though in Canada we don't suffer from protectionism in our sugar industry and our pop would not generally contain high-fructose corn syrup.)

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