If a guy in the stall next to you was attempting to solicit you for sex, would you recognize the signals? The odds are that unless you are involved in anonymous same-sex cruising, you wouldn’t. And that’s one of the advantages of such signals—they are mostly unrecognizable, and therefore likely to go unnoticed, by outsiders.
Two economics writers have taken the Larry Craig scandal as an opportunity to explore the economic theory of how coordinating signals can evolve somewhat spontaneously. Some of it should be familiar to anyone who has dealt with the way non-public information gets passed along in financial markets—particularly how conventions of passing along non-public information get established by the particularly bold or needy and eventually become widely known to insiders but are largely invisible to outsiders.
Of course, we hope you’ll read these for the interesting questions they raise about market signaling and spontaneous organization. But we might as well tell you that after you read the pair of essays, or watch the video above from Slate, you’ll know all you ever wanted to—and probably a lot more than you wanted to—about picking up men in a men’s room.
what can bathroom cruising contribute to org theory? [OrgTheory.Net]
Larry Craig [Marginal Revolution]