I, Coke Can

11 March 2013 at 10:53 am 4 comments

coke-can-198x300| Peter Klein |

Via Craig Newmark, a modern riff on Leonard Read’s classic:

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.

No surprises here to students of open innovation, but a vivid illustration nonetheless.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Innovation.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Scott Masten  |  11 March 2013 at 11:55 am

    Maybe so. But I at least know how Coke cans are made. It even figured in one of my papers: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1290360

  • 2. Per Bylund  |  11 March 2013 at 2:51 pm

    The link to I, Pencil is broken. Need “http://”.

  • 3. Peter Klein  |  11 March 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Wasn’t it Leonard Read who said, “The number of individuals who know how to insert a hyperlink is zero”?

    Thanks, fixed.

  • 4. Mauro Mello Jr.  |  13 March 2013 at 5:14 pm

    I once came across a picture of the supply chain for a taco — ‘I, Taco’? — (original at http://rebargroup.org/tacoshed/, though the quality of the image is not great.)

    I can’t locate the article where I first read about it but I recall that the diagram was used as an attempt to support the purported benefits of ‘buy local’ approaches, although I believe it backfired on that count by providing clear evidence to the contrary.

    It is eye-opening to see how places in the middle of absolutely nowhere benefit from engaging in trading with others.

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