Stocks that bind you

I’ve recently been looking into mapping financial flows for the next step in Flows/Flujos. To do so, I’ve been in discussion with financial hacker Brett Scott, and taking inspiration from iilab’s Open Oil mapping work.

In the process, I’ve been pondering the concept of stocks. Having spent a considerable time thinking also about artist Tamysn Challenger’s Monoculture exhibition, in which stocks join other medieval torture devices in the familiar colours of Facebook blue and white, the extra meaning of the word “stocks” in finance rather struck me.

Stocks, your shares in companies, are a means of conveying ownership of a percentage of a company or companies and their profits to you, but they also binds you to a company – which is essentially an alien entity to you, over which you have little control. It’s as if you were an old woman in the 14th century, who lives on her own and likes to feed wild animals. You’re fine until someone in the village falls sick. Then, the stocks snap closed.



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