[FoRK] Costly Signals, Potlatch

Aaron Burt aaron at bavariati.org
Wed Aug 17 11:22:13 PDT 2011

On Tue, Aug 16, 2011 at 12:18:05AM -0700, Stephen Williams wrote:
> Queued this for reading recently:
> http://networkedblogs.com/lG0nj
("Do employers of college graduates reward actual ability and
  productivity? Or are they responding to a costly signal?")

It's both of those, plus filter, hazing and class/tribal marker.
Humans are /complex/.

> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potlatch

AKA "Big Man system".  It works (in times of resource surplus) and is less
deadly than the usual alternatives.  Big Men display useful qualities like
charisma, leadership, trustworthiness and the ability to accumulate wealth.

Unfortunately, Big Man societies are not particularly democratic, and are
often hard on women.

The launch and vendor parties at OSCON looked awfully like potlatches.
So do old-time political rallies, harvest dinners and the like.

Anyone else read Marvin Harris?

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