Intangible things are entities that have no physical form. The following are illustrative examples.Ideas and thought processes have no physical form. For example, an abstract concept such as freedom.
EmotionHuman emotions such as pride, envy and love.The abilities of people.Information that exists in the mind.Information that is represented in a digital form.Intellectual property such as trademarks, copyrights and patents.
Valuable know-how that is protected by secrecy as opposed to legal rights.The recognition, image and reputation of a brand can be worth many billions of dollars but has no physical form. The value of a brand extends from the impressions it has made on the minds of customers and other stakeholders such as employees and investors.
Most of the world's money exists as the records of banks and has no physical form. This can often be exchanged for a physical money such as a dollar bill.
Financial AssetsFinancial assets are often represented as securities, derivatives and other contracts that don't necessarily have a physical form although they often represent ownership or rights in something physical.
ExperienceAn experience such as visiting a theme park.
EventsA unique and limited-time experience such as a concert or business conference.A product that mostly offers intangible value. For example, a high speed train that transports people. Advanced economies are shifting towards services and away from physical products. Physical products will always exist but the vast majority of future value creation is likely to be intangible.
Items that were traditionally sold as a physical product that can now be downloaded as a digital item. For example, an ebook.
Digital EnvironmentsDigital places that can be experienced despite the fact they do not physically exist. For example, a game or virtual event.Software is digital functionality that is stored as data.
Communication is increasingly electronic and is often paperless. For example, a voice call or a text message.Entertainment, information and publications are typically digital with rare exceptions such as a physical newspaper.
Education & TrainingEducation and training offer intangible value such as knowledge, cultivation of talent, experience and development of social connections.Work products that have no physical form such as a strategy, plan, design, decision, advice, diagnosis, communication or software code. Employment in advanced economies is shifting from physical work to knowledge work such that most work products have no physical form.Culture can be tangible such as a historical building or intangible such as a language.
SocietyA society relies on tangible things such as infrastructure and intangible things such as civility.The fluid rules of a society or culture. Unlike laws or regulations, norms are informal and occur spontaneously as a social process.
ValuesThe principles of a society, culture, group or individual that allow for peace, productivity and pursuit of happiness. An experience that bonds individuals together as a group. For example, a hardship that produces stronger social bonds between families, friends, community members or coworkers.
IdentityThe ability of a person to feel that they share things in common with others based on shared characteristics or experiences. At the most fundamental level, people typically identify as human such that they have sympathy and respect for other people.
Art, Film & MusicCreative outputs that have cultural and artistic value often have no physical form. It can also be said that a physical work of art such as a painting derives most of its value from the intangible experience of viewing the art as opposed to being a physical product. For example, a digital image of a painting can be enjoyed much like the painting itself whereas a digital image of a tractor has little value compared to the physical machine.The extent to which people are satisfied by life measured with concepts such as happiness and self-fulfillment.
This is the complete list of articles we have written about intangible things.
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