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A well-known passage in Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution on France cast aspersions on economists, and bracketed them with "sophisters" and "calculators". To be precise, "The age of chivalry is gone; — That of sophisters, economists, and calculators, has succeeded, and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever." 

Burke in 1790 had an important insight which bears on a serious modern problem, namely how to organise national income accounting in the internet era. At the end of the 18th century the purpose of life was for many people rather more than "the maximisation of utility", while the concept of gross domestic product had not been formalised. "Chivalry", or more broadly the pursuit of a good moral life, was understood to have value even if that value could not be quantified in monetary terms. Indeed, many desiderata — such as the creation and enjoyment of beautiful things — were and remain difficult to fit into a GDP framework.

What about friendship? We all want to know what our friends are saying and thinking, and we all hope that our friends are interested in what we are saying and thinking. In the distant past the utterances of most people could be communicated only within a limited circle, usually indeed only to other people within earshot. Technology evolved, and the discovery of writing allowed us to communicate by letter, while the innovation of printing expanded the readership of the literate and eloquent who could write books and newspapers. But the literate and eloquent were few. Later, radio and television opened up vast audiences for broadcasters, but the numbers of these broadcasters were almost by definition very small relative to their audiences. 

In other words, until very recently most contacts between friends were contacts that took place in small face-to-face meetings. Technology had made other kinds of contact possible, but these other kinds of contact were relatively infrequent. 

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