Today’s mechanism of spreading knowledge is analogous to the mechanism of wealth creation of Adam Smith. To document it, below we briefly examine the mechanism of each of the two separately and then compare their most salient features, though we admit that our treatment of the claim provides food for thought and is by far not exhaustive.

The mechanism of spreading knowledge

The drive for the accomplishment of the self makes us want to disseminate freely our knowledge and our best works in pursuit of the others’ direct or indirect approval. Manifestations of such approvals or recognitions come by comments of appreciation, positive reviews or likes which serve to feed the sought-after enhancement of self.

Adam Smith’s mechanism of spreading economic prosperity

Adam Smith in his classic book “The Wealth of Nations” says that it is the rational self-interest which through trade and gain leads to the spread of economic prosperity. Individuals trade by exhibiting their products for others to see their value and endorse them thus contributing to the seller’s wealth which was then the sought-after enhancement of self.

The recognition of value in the days of Adam Smith was done by selecting and buying whereas in our days the recognition of the knowledge value is indicated by acceptance through likes and comments.

Some of the prominent points of the analogy are summarized in the table below

Motive Self-interest forGain and
Self-interest forAccomplishment and
Attention-attracting method Exhibiting and trade Offering to public view via internet, exhibitions, concerts etc.
Value recognition through Buying:
Money payment
Attending or Reading:
Likes, appreciation, applause

Many people nowadays across all the spectrum of life, artists, writers, scientists share their work freely, without thought of charging for it, simply seeking a bravo, applause or just a confirmation that will signify the degree of acceptance by the others of the value of their accomplishment and of their self.


About the author: Panikos Sardos is the Managing Director of P&E Sardos Business Solutions Int., a management consulting firm that offers advisory services, coaching and training and can be reached by email: psardos@sardossolutions.com or telephone: +357 99640912, +357 24400884, www.sardossolutions.com