Picture this scene. You are a weary 12th century traveller quietly sipping an ale at a tavern. A man approaches you. “I have something that’s in very limited supply,” he whispers to you conspiratorially, before asking, “would you like it?” You look at him suspiciously, and, over the drone of bard music, reply with, “depends on what it is”.
He sits down and continues. “It’s something that can be split into pieces and moved around”. You shrug and say, “I’m already carrying a lot of stuff, so tell me what it is first”. “It’s almost weightless,” he adds with a wink, “and cannot be seized from you”. Now you feel irritated. “Listen, can you actually tell me what this split-able, moveable, lightweight, unseizeable thing is?”
He seems offended. “Surely those are features enough my friend?” You growl back with “look, syphilis is lightweight, movable and cannot be taken away either, but that doesn’t mean I want it.” “Come on!” he shouts out, “I’m offering you something scarce that can be passed to others across borders!” You slam your drink down: “Tell me what the thing is and then I’ll tell whether I care. Are you trying to hand me gems, bubonic plague, seeds?”