Economics of Skating Rinks: Spontaneous Order
Undercover Economist Tim Harford writes in the Financial Times about skating rink economics:
"A skating rink has to be seen to be believed. Dozens of skaters hurtle around the ring while others, inexperienced, teeter precariously on sharp-bladed skates. Nobody has been checked for competence, there are no lanes, speed limits, rights-of-way or traffic signals. And yet the rink works perfectly, everybody skates around in the same direction and at their own pace, and little fingers and toes rarely get sliced off."
The skating rink is an example of what economist Friedrich Hayek called “spontaneous order,” the natural process of self-organization and order that often emerges spontaneously, without any central planning or control.
For example, think of the English language - who's in charge? Nobody. And yet it's organized very systematically without any central planning, because of spontaneous order. Think of the Internet - who's in charge? Nobody really, but think of how well-organized it is, because of spontaneous order.