What Do We All Provide?


This visualization of the workforce as 147 people shows what we're all working towards every day

We often focus on what we actually do – whether we're programmers or accountants – rather than to what end we do it – whether we're working for organization that provides apples, knowledge or real estate viewings.

Few of us – only 24 out of 147 people – provide real, physical things. The rest of us provide services, moving those real, physical things or supporting these and other operations. Only 2 out of 147 people are in the business of making our lives fun.

This visualization represents the US workforce (though is probably representative of most developed regions of world). Military personnel are omitted, because the US government is convinced that American lives would be at risk if anyone were to learn anything about what the military really do.

Why 147 people? This is Dunbar's number, more or less. It has been argued that we work well in groups of no more than this number of people. A village, tribe or company of 147 will work well, with every person able to maintain meaningful social relations with every other person. You can imagine knowing each of the nurses, teachers, builders, engineers, mechanics, drivers, accountants, managers and lawyers on this visualization.


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Compare this with What Do We All Do? which focuses on what we actually do rather than what our work provides

More work made thinkable

More commerce made thinkable

More people made thinkable

Latest things made thinkable


Brick · Wheel · Pillar · Smile · Apple · Oil Drum · Faucet · House · Car · Truck · Crate · Scanner · Credit Card · Quill · Paper · Hand · Government · Bed · Light Bulb · Heart · Balloon


First published January 2011

other pages on things made thinkable

Baryons   If Advertising Were Abolished…   Planets
Baryons   If Advertising Were Abolished…   Planets
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