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A Summary of

Scarcity as an API

Mario Gabriele
The Generalist
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In precious stones, novel pharmaceuticals, patents, copyright law, and the planned obsolescence of devices, we see the hand of artificial scarcity⁠— dearth invented to create or preserve a product's perceived value.

Artificial Scarcity

  • In some cases, scarcity itself impacts our sense of status:
    • Example: It probably isn't that cool to own a patent, but owning a large diamond might be.
  • In other's, it's the mechanism itself that impacts our sense of status:
    • Example: Pay-gating as a mechanism doesn't confer much status (subscribing to Spotify or Netflix isn't that notable), while those which require effort or implied effort (like gaining 100K Twitter followers) often do.

The drop:

Brands like Supreme and Palace "drop" their new items, making them available in limited supply and/or for limited times. - Items purchased in a drop grant higher status than those purchased by other mechanisms, and come with the benefit of implied effort in acquirement. - The internet grew the phenomenon. Getting ahold of the latest drop not only conferred status but, with the ease of buying and selling second-hand items online, could be profitable.

Scarcity as an API:

  • If scarcity drives status, and people are willing to spend to attain status, then reliably and repeatedly creating scarcity should be valuable.
  • Software companies could programmatically "drop" new features at specific times, or only to users with sufficient engagement, fundamentally altering their hype-span.
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