Sixteenth Century Frenchman Devises Craiglist

Michel de MontaigneWant to sell an old scythe? Need to hire a swineherd? These days, you'd use Craigslist. But five hundred years ago, that wasn't an option. Nonetheless, the idea behind Craiglist was present. Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), a prominent French philosopher and writer, wrote about the business model that Craig Newmark would eventually develop:

My late father, a man of a decidedly clear judgement, based though it was only on his natural gifts and his own experience, said to me once that he had wished to set a plan in motion leading to the designation of a place in our cities where those who were in need of anything could go and have their requirements registered by a duly appointed official; for example: “I want to sell some pearls”; or “I want to buy some pearls.” “So-and-so wants to make up a group to travel to Paris”; ‘”So-and-so wants a servant with the following qualifications”; “So-and-so seeks an employer”; “So-and-so wants a workman”; each stating his wishes according to his needs.

It does seem that this means of mutual advertising would bring no slight advantage to our public dealings; for at every turn there are bargains seeking each other but, because they cannot find each other, men are left in extreme want.

Link | Image: Kelson

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