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Phantom Public | Dissent Magazine
"Today you don’t have to be a card-carrying McLuhanite to believe that forms of media have their own inherent politics. Many academics and pundits have built their reputations arguing that the rise of the internet leads to the decentralization and democratization of communication, and of social life more broadly. While some contemporary critics have challenged this sort of “technological determinism,” the proposition that new media is irrelevant to understanding politics is equally problematic. We need more historically informed analyses of the way power operates in an era of digital networks and electronic media, and more pointed critiques of the ways the powerful purposefully obscure their influence over and through these channels.

The work of Stanford historian Fred Turner is a good place to start. As he explains in his fascinating and illuminating 2013 book The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties, McLuhan’s apparently pioneering thinking on media owes a large and largely forgotten debt to an earlier group of anti-fascist campaigners and well-meaning Cold Warriors. They were the first to articulate a vision of a media-driven democracy that, though never perfectly implemented, has suffused much of today’s popular thinking about the internet and social media."



"Was another world possible? It is clear that part of the reason that Turner wrote The Democratic Surround was to remind us of good ideas that have been abandoned and alternative paths not taken. As he writes in the book’s introduction, “What has disappeared is the deeply democratic vision that animated the turn toward mediated environments in the first place, and that sustained it across the 1950s and into the 1960s.” It is this “radically liberal, diverse, and egalitarian” vision that Turner wishes to recover through his research; he hopes that “with a new generation’s efforts, it might yet live there again.” It sounds desirable enough. Yet for such ideals to be revived we have to better understand the way their absence adversely affects us, and that’s something Turner never clearly articulates.

For Turner a pivotal rift occurred in the 1960s, when the politically oriented New Left and the free-spirited counterculture parted ways. In tracing the roots of the “Be-Ins” and “Happenings” to the democratic surrounds of preceding decades, Turner highlights the shortcomings of the former, making the case that some critical democratic potential got lost. The multimedia experimentation of the period—and the counterculture more broadly, in Turner’s view—promoted the personal psyche as the proper terrain of social change; collective responsibility, effective organization, and direct action got the shaft. No doubt Turner is right that our political ambitions have become contracted and privatized, but placing so much blame at the feet of the counterculture seems both overstated and oversimplified when you consider the larger economic and social forces involved. The countercultural mindset Turner laments was more a symptom of neoliberalism’s ascension than its cause.

Of course the counterculture is hardly the only realm of diminished utopian horizons. In 1946 and 1949 Norbert Wiener wrote two agonized letters on the politics of technology. The first, published in the Atlantic Monthly under the title “A Scientist Rebels,” was a response to an employee of the Boeing Aircraft Company who had requested a copy of an out-of-print article. Though he conducted military research during the Second World War, Wiener refused to share his paper, deploring the “tragic insolence of the military mind” and the “bombing or poisoning of defenseless peoples” to which his scientific ideas might contribute. The second was an unsolicited warning about advances in automation to Walter Reuther of the Union of Automobile Workers, declaring that he had “turned down unconditionally” invitations to consult for corporations. “I do not wish to contribute in any way to selling labor down the river,” he wrote.

Wiener agonized over the role of science in a world warped by power imbalances, particularly economic ones. And he chose sides. In our own age, it is imperative that more people take similar stands. Turner suggests that if enough people do—and if they come together and advocate for their beliefs by building associations and institutions—they may have more of an impact in the long term than they could ever imagine at the outset. But this comes with a warning: their efforts might lead us to a situation they could neither anticipate nor comprehend. “Were the world we dream of attained, members of that new world would be so different from ourselves that they would no longer value it in the same terms in which we now desire it,” Margaret Mead says in an epigraph that begins The Democratic Surround. “We would no longer be at home in such a world.” Those of us who live within the surround and under the managerial mode of control, and who hope to change it, can only welcome the possibility of one day finding ourselves discomfited and cast out from the world we call home."
2016  astrataylor  cybernetics  marshalmcluhan  history  internet  web  online  media  counterculture  norbertweiner  thesaltsummaries  stevenpinker  clayshirky  francisfukuyama  chrisanderson  nassimtaleb  niallferguson  fredturner  theodoradorno  stewartbrand  wholeearthcatalog  well  kenkesey 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Ai Weiwei is Living in Our Future — Medium
'Living under permanent surveillance and what that means for our freedom'



"Put a collar with a GPS chip around your dog’s neck and from that moment onwards you will be able to follow your dog on an online map and get a notification on your phone whenever your dog is outside a certain area. You want to take good care of your dog, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the collar also functions as a fitness tracker. Now you can set your dog goals and check out graphs with trend lines. It is as Bruce Sterling says: “You are Fluffy’s Zuckerberg”.

What we are doing to our pets, we are also doing to our children.

The ‘Amber Alert’, for example, is incredibly similar to the Pet Tracker. Its users are very happy: “It’s comforting to look at the app and know everyone is where they are supposed to be!” and “The ability to pull out my phone and instantly monitor my son’s location, takes child safety to a whole new level.” In case you were wondering, it is ‘School Ready’ with a silent mode for educational settings.

Then there is ‘The Canary Project’ which focuses on American teens with a driver’s license. If your child is calling somebody, texting or tweeting behind the wheel, you will be instantly notified. You will also get a notification if your child is speeding or is outside the agreed-on territory.

If your child is ignoring your calls and doesn’t reply to your texts, you can use the ‘Ignore no more’ app. It will lock your child’s phone until they call you back. This clearly shows that most surveillance is about control. Control is the reason why we take pleasure in surveilling ourselves more and more.

I won’t go into the ‘Quantified Self’ movement and our tendency to put an endless amount of sensors on our body attempting to get “self knowlegde through numbers”. As we have already taken the next step towards control: algorithmic punishment if we don’t stick to our promises or reach our own goals."



"Normally his self-measured productivity would average around 40%, but with Kara next to him, his productiviy shot upward to 98%. So what do you do with that lesson? You create a wristband that shocks you whenever you fail to keep to your own plan. The wristband integrates well, of course, with other apps in your “productivity ecosystem”."



"On Kickstarter the makers of the ‘Blink’ camera tried to crowdfund 200.000 dollars for their invention. They received over one millions dollars instead. The camera is completely wireless, has a battery that lasts a year and streams HD video straight to your phone."



"I would love to speak about the problems of gentrification in San Francisco, or about a culture where nobody thinks you are crazy when you utter the sentence “Don’t touch me, I’ll fucking sue you” or about the fact this Google Glass user apparently wasn’t ashamed enough about this interaction to not post this video online. But I am going to talk about two other things: the first-person perspective and the illusionary symmetry of the Google Glass.

First the perspective from which this video was filmed. When I saw the video for the first time I was completely fascinated by her own hand which can be seen a few times and at some point flips the bird."



"The American Civil Liberties Union (also known as the ACLU) released a report late last year listing the advantages and disadvantages of bodycams. The privacy concerns of the people who will be filmed voluntarily or involuntarily and of the police officers themselves (remember Ai Weiwei’s guards who were continually watched) are weighed against the impact bodycams might have in combatting arbitrary police violence."



"A short while ago I noticed that you didn’t have to type in book texts anymore when filling in a reCAPTCHA. Nowadays you type in house numbers helping Google, without them asking you, to further digitize the physical world."



"This is the implicit view on humanity that the the big tech monopolies have: an extremely cheap source of labour which can be brought to a high level of productivity through the smart use of machines. To really understand how this works we need to take a short detour to the gambling machines in Las Vegas."



"Taleb has written one of the most important books of this century. It is called ‘Anti-fragile: Things That Gain from Disorder’ and it explores how you should act in a world that is becoming increasingly volatile. According to him, we have allowed efficiency thinking to optimize our world to such an extent that we have lost the flexibility and slack that is necessary for dealing with failure. This is why we can no longer handle any form of risk.

Paradoxically this leads to more repression and a less safe environment. Taleb illustrates this with an analogy about a child which is raised by its parents in a completely sterile environment having a perfect life without any hard times. That child will likely grow up with many allergies and will not be able to navigate the real world.

We need failure to be able to learn, we need inefficiency to be able to recover from mistakes, we have to take risks to make progress and so it is imperative to find a way to celebrate imperfection.

We can only keep some form of true freedom if we manage to do that. If we don’t, we will become cogs in the machines. I want to finish with a quote from Ai Weiwei:
“Freedom is a pretty strange thing. Once you’ve experienced it, it remains in your heart, and no one can take it away. Then, as an individual, you can be more powerful than a whole country.”
"
aiweiwei  surveillance  privacy  china  hansdezwart  2014  google  maps  mapping  freedom  quantification  tracking  technology  disney  disneyland  bigdog  police  lawenforcement  magicbands  pets  monitoring  pettracker  parenting  teens  youth  mobile  phones  cellphones  amberalert  canaryproject  autonomy  ignorenomore  craiglist  productivity  pavlok  pavlov  garyshteyngart  grindr  inder  bangwithfriends  daveeggers  transparency  thecircle  literature  books  dystopia  lifelogging  blink  narrative  flone  drones  quadcopters  cameras  kevinkelly  davidbrin  googleglass  sarahslocum  aclu  ferguson  michaelbrown  bodycams  cctv  captcha  recaptcha  labor  sousveillance  robots  humans  capitalism  natashadowschüll  design  facebook  amazon  addiction  nassimtaleb  repression  safety  society  howwelearn  learning  imperfection  humanism  disorder  control  power  efficiency  inefficiency  gambling  lasvegas  doom  quantifiedself  measurement  canon  children 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Twitter / tlhote: "Bureaucracy is a construction ...
"Bureaucracy is a construction designed to maximize the distance between a decision-maker and the risks of the decision." —@nntaleb

[via: http://alecresnick.com/post/88006424970/bureaucracy-is-a-construction-designed-to ]
leadership  organizations  bureaucracy  decisionmaking  responsibility  risk  nassimtaleb 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Open Ed 12 - Gardner Campbell Keynote - Ecologies of Yearning - YouTube
[See also: https://storify.com/audreywatters/ecologies-of-yearning-and-the-future-of-open-educa ]

[See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steps_to_an_Ecology_of_Mind and
PDF http://www.edtechpost.ca/readings/Gregory%20Bateson%20-%20Ecology%20of%20Mind.pdf ]

[References these videos by a student: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmFL4Khu2yJoR0Oq5dcY5pw ]

[via: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:e91b15f323b8

"In his keynote at the 2012 OpenEd conference, Gardner Campbell, an Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech, talked about the “Ecologies of Yearning.” (Seriously: watch the video.) Campbell offered a powerful and poetic vision about the future of open learning, but noted too that there are competing visions for that future, particularly from the business and technology sectors. There are competing definitions of “open” as well, and pointing to the way in which “open” is used (and arguably misused) by education technology companies, Campbell’s keynote had a refrain, borrowed from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”: “That is not it at all. That is not what I meant, at all.”"]

"30:29 Bateson's Hierarchy of learning

30:52 Zero Learning:"receipt of signal". No error possible

31:37 Learning I: "change in specificity of response by correction of errors of choice within a set of alternatives". Palov, etc. Habituation, adaptation.

32:16 Learning II: Learning-to-learn, context recognition, "corrective change in the set of alternatives from which choice is made, or.. in how the sequence of experience is punctuated". Premises are self-validating.

34:23 Learning III: Meta-contextual perspective, imagining and shifting contexts of understanding. "a corrective change in the system of sets of alternatives from which choice is made" Puts self at risk. Questions become explosive.

36:22 Learning IV: change to level III, "probably does not occur in any adult living organisms on this earth"

38:59 "Double bind"

44:49 Habits of being that might be counter-intuitive

51:49 Participant observers constructed Wordles of students' blogs"

[Comment from Céline Keller:

"This is my favorite talk online: Open Ed 12 - Gardner Campbell Keynote - Ecologies of Yearning +Gardner Campbell

This is what I wrote about it 7 month ago:

"Academia is to knowledge what prostitution is to love; close enough on the surface but, to the nonsucker, not exactly the same thing." Nassim Nicholas Taleb

If you care about education and learning don't miss listening to Gardner Campbell!

As described on the #edcmooc resource page:

"(This lecture)...serves as a warning that what we really want - our utopia - is not necessarily to be found in the structures we are putting in place (or finding ourselves within)."
Love it."

I still mean it. This is great, listen."]

[More here: http://krustelkrammoocs.blogspot.com/2013/02/gardner-campbell-sense-of-wonder-how-to.html ]
2012  gardnercampbell  nassimtaleb  academia  web  participatory  learning  howwelearn  hierarchyoflearning  love  habituation  adaption  open  openeducation  coursera  gregorybateson  udacity  sebastianthrun  mooc  moocs  georgesiemens  stephendownes  davecormier  carolyeager  aleccouros  jimgroom  audreywatters  edupunk  jalfredprufrock  missingthepoint  highered  edx  highereducation  tseliot  rubrics  control  assessment  quantification  canon  administration  hierarchy  hierarchies  pedagogy  philosophy  doublebind  paranoia  hepephrenia  catatonia  mentalhealth  schizophrenia  life  grades  grading  seymourpapert  ecologiesofyearning  systems  systemsthinking  suppression  context  education  conditioning  pavlov  gamification  freedom  liberation  alankay  human  humans  humanism  agency  moreofthesame  metacontexts  unfinished  ongoing  lifelonglearning  cognition  communication  networkedtranscontextualism  transcontextualism  transcontextualsyndromes  apgartest  virginiaapgar  howweteach  scottmccloud  michaelchorost  georgedyson  opening  openness  orpheus  experience  consciousness  pur 
may 2014 by robertogreco
BBC News - The slow death of purposeless walking
"A number of recent books have lauded the connection between walking - just for its own sake - and thinking. But are people losing their love of the purposeless walk?"
walking  thinking  2014  flaneur  wandering  charlesdickens  georgeorwell  patrickleigh  constantinbrancusi  thoreau  thomasdequincey  nassimtaleb  nietzsche  brucechatwin  wgebald  johnfrancis  fredericgros  geoffnicholson  merlincoverley  observation  attention  mindfulness  rebeccasolnit  finlorohrer  vladimirnabokov 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Manso: Jay Porter Interview #3, Part 2
[Also available here: http://jayporter.com/dispatches/san-diego-exit-interview-part-2/ ]

"I talk to people about this a lot. Because of the interviews we’ve done in the past, I know about the business, and I’m a Linkery booster. People tell me, “I really like the idea of the Linkery.” I say, “yeah, it’s an awesome idea.” But they say “I like the idea of the Linkery more than I like the Linkery itself.” And because it was a huge idea that existed in a very robust way, virtually, people could experience it without ever going there.

It was principally an idea. It was an Internet-operated idea. The thing was real, it was real people and real products, but the operations were very much facilitated by the Internet. Our fundamental marketing plan was to do remarkable things and share them in this very transparent way through a blog and by talking honestly about what we were doing. Which in 2005 was a radical idea for a restaurant.

The idea that you could start a blog and newsletter and get people into your local restaurant by saying, hey we got this one pig from this farm, and here’s what we’re doing in the kitchen today, and here’s who we want to win the soccer match…it all feels like Portlandia now, but in 2005 even Portland wasn’t doing it!

My background was, I had really followed where “Web 2.0” companies were going, and how they were communicating with their audiences, and how they were transforming the relationship between companies and their customers. And the Open Source movement really came together at that time. The essay The Cathedral and The Bazaar was such an influential thing for me, I think I read that right before we started the restaurant.

I read that. We probably read it at the exact same time.

Open Source was really catching fire. I was using all the Gnu tools because I was a geek. But it wasn’t long until, for example, my Mom knew what Linux was. Open Source was exploding. It informed so much of how I conceived of the business.

Even when, say, Michael came on as GM, or our chefs would start with us, that was just part of working for our business: We’re super transparent. We blog about things. We take pictures of things. Communication is an essential part of our jobs. We’re building enthusiasm for this kind of food. And then there was the part where we were finding farmers on the Internet, and saying, hey, we think you’re selling what we want to buy, or we think that you might be able to grow what we want to buy. And that was all very tech-driven.

But I think that, as with a lot of these kinds of projects, we also discovered the limits of this approach. Which was, it became too easy to consume the Linkery without actually experiencing the Linkery.

That’s also where I lost interest with a lot of the infrastructure of reviews and critics – I personally like the critics in town, but the infrastructure, including Yelp or whatever, is set up to treat what the restaurant does only as content to be reviewed, in order to generate more content.

Our online presence became its own, free, content that we were delivering to people who then added their own content around it, and then they sold it one way or another, without anybody ever just fucking eating a hot dog. And in the end, the guy who makes the hot dogs has to get fucking paid, no matter how many Yelp reviews get written, or how many articles get written about my blog post or whatever.

Now, the opportunity to build a new business from scratch is a great opportunity, and what’s become clear as we put the new place together is this: as a restaurant operator, I am not in the business of content. I’m not in the business of making things for people to write about. I’m in the business of creating fantastic experiences around local food. And, those experiences are really hard to have on the Internet. You gotta show up for that shit.

So we’re intentionally building our new restaurant to not have a strong online component, or a content-generation component.

But hey, if you want to pay me to write something for you, I’m happy to do that.

If you’re getting paid to write something, then that’s what you’re selling.

There’s a great quote from when Alec Baldwin had Seinfield on his podcast. Alec Baldwin says, “you could have your entire channel. Your own production company, you produce all your own shows, and you could be raking it in, because, it’s all produced by Jerry Seinfeld.” And Seinfeld says, “you could not even sell me that. You know why I wouldn’t do that.”

Baldwin says – I think in legitimate confusion – “I don’t understand.” And Seinfeld says, “because that’s not the thing. I want to connect with my audience. I want to write. That’s the thing.” And then he used this great metaphor, he says, “if you want to experience the ocean, do you want to be on a surfboard or do you want to be on a yacht? I want to be on a surfboard. People have a yacht so they can say, hey, look at my yacht.”

You realize the thing that you’re trying to do and the thing that you’re building have nothing to do with each other.

Yeah, I really misjudged. It started out as a really great way to distinguish ourselves as being different from other restaurants and to communicate what we were really about. It was highly effective for that. But in the end it became its own thing with its own overhead. I stopped feeding that beast a year or two before we sold the restaurant, I really just put up pictures at that point.

Which I think is an amazing thing about technology now. Instagram really is all you need. You can be like, “here, we made something awesome.” It takes you three seconds.

And now, the contextual cues make it clear what you’re about. In 2006, we had to really explain, here is what we believe, this is why we do this, this is who we’re buying from. But now, people understand a restaurant that blogs its ingredients and dishes. You could start a restaurant called “A Blog of Ingredients and Dishes” and people would know exactly what kind of food you serve.

Naming what farms you’re sourcing from and all that. People get it.

Yeah, it’s cool, I don’t want to eat differently than that. But there’s not much needed in terms of explaining what it’s all about. A Tumblr will do the trick fine.

You don’t need to host your own Wordpress blog anymore.

Do you know who Austin Kleon is? He’s really popular on Tumblr. He wrote a book called “Steal Like An Artist”.

I’ve seen that book.

He has a new book coming out called “Show Your Work.” Which I haven’t read obviously because it’s not out yet. But I’m already taking issue with it. Show your work, yes, because there’s real value in that, but that’s also work. To show your work, is also more work that isn’t your work. If you’re not getting paid for it, and if it’s distracting from what you’re actually trying to do, then don’t.

I just think a big thing right now is that, the Internet, and everyone who sits at work googling shit, and reads Facebook and their RSS reader – and I’m part of that Borg – it just creates such a demand for content that nobody’s ever satisfied. You’re not giving them enough free content.

This was a discussion that we’d have sometimes with people who wanted to review us, or write about us, or with Yelp or whoever. I’d say, you know, I don’t really care. I’m not in the business of giving you something to write about.

Look, a restaurant lives in an ecosystem of reviewers and there’s a give-and-take. It’s an environment, and you work with the restaurant media to make sure that they have enough content to keep interest in restaurants alive, and to keep their jobs going. And they in turn are respectful of the realities of restaurants, they don’t run hatchet pieces all the time. Those are the professionals, the professional restauranteurs and the professional writers, and they understand that this is how this thing works. There is a demand for written content and restaurant experiences, and together the restaurant media and the restaurants can create a really positive environment around it. The core professionals understand this.

But in a slightly more outer circle, there may be some slightly less sophisticated people, maybe they are working in the media – whether it’s print or small blogs or whatever – and some of those people really just look at the restaurants as ways of generating content. And when this happens, I’m kind of like, dude, not only do I not really want to help you with this, I don’t want you in my place. You’re not helping this guy, who’s sitting next to you at the bar, who just had a shitty day at work and he came to his favorite local place to be around friends and enjoy some food that he really likes – you’re not helping him have a better time. You’re not helping my employees do their jobs better or make a better living. You’re just kind of in here, trying to improve your own career on top of something that has nothing to do with you and that’s – that makes you kind of a dick.

Because he’ll be trying to create something, “there’s a narrative here”, and maybe there is, but it’s probably not what he’s going to write about…

There actually is a really interesting parallel with what I’ve been reading a lot lately, this kind of “new generation” of highly intelligent sportswriting. Writers like Spencer Hall of SBNation, David J Roth who started a magazine called the Classical…

I don’t know shit about sports, so –

Well, sports is just a way that society expresses itself. A lot of these writers see within sports how society is expressing itself and they write about that.

It’s a vessel to describe society.

So a topic that’s come up with some of these more interesting sportswriters is how sports now serves this purpose, for shitty media outlets to read narrative into everything. Today, nobody just scores a touchdown, instead the touchdown marks a point in … [more]
jedsundwall  jayporter  meta  metadata  making  doing  internet  content  sports  journalism  criticism  2014  interviews  narrative  storytelling  instagram  twitter  data  documentation  thelinkery  restaurants  process  austinkleon  alecbaldwin  howweowork  food  opensource  workinginpublic  nassimtaleb  privilege  luck  business  success  blackswans  emergence  jamesfowler  sethgodin  kurtvonnegut  vonnegut 
march 2014 by robertogreco
La Forme de Flâner — Dorian Taylor
""Never run for the train," proclaimed Nassim Taleb in The Black Swan. It's something of a gnomic statement, coming from an independently wealthy, born-again slacker, albeit one who I believe is on to something. I think about this statement a lot, because it embodies something we don't have very good language for in the professional discourse around things made of pure thought-stuff.

Our dominant paradigm is couched in language of comparative efficiency. We focus on becoming lean from trimming off the fat of bureaucratic processes, and remaining agile to respond quickly to the bewilderingly capricious environment that snares lumbering megafauna. This is an enormous achievement. It is also enormously limiting.

My problem with this paradigm is that we can only get so lean before becoming anorexic, and only so agile before burning out. It's unsustainable and we have to stop eventually. Perhaps most significant, though, is that efficiency is antithetical to what we do.

Our raw material is information, which, despite tremendous advances in its storage, transport and manipulation, still exhibits peculiar properties. It must be recognized, gathered, concentrated, operated on, arranged, displayed, communicated and understood. Information is scattered around space and time, and often buried far from the surface. It is also rarely substitutable: if we need a particular piece of information, we must expend exactly the effort required to get it. It follows that in order to know how to optimize the work around information, we must already have done it.
If that statement was false, there would be no need for empiricism at all, because all knowledge could be reasoned, including knowledge about how long it takes to reason.

I worry that our fervour to get leaner and more agile will eventually starve us of our perceptual acuity, memory, and ultimately our wisdom. But I'm not precisely advocating slowing down, as much as I am suggesting aligning with the cosmos in a way that makes fast not necessary.

The ethos that embodies such an alignment, I believe, is that of the flâneur. To flâne is to amble about with no outwardly discernible mission, taking interest in whatever presents itself wherever and whenever you are. We don't have a word for this in English, at least not one that doesn't import some form of morally reprehensible, even parasitic quality.

The inscrutability of the state of flâner does not necessarily entail that it is unproductive. Certain results are indeed either better or only achieved en flânant, namely those that depend on a complex synthesis of diverse material from disparate and eclectic sources. Like the kind of precursor material you need to write a book. Or a song. Or an app.

Flânerie has found its way into design literature, albeit not always explicitly. Bill Buxton mentions phases of divergence interspersed with those of convergence, to arrive eventually at a successful outcome. Herbert Simon wrote that when designing a system, we should operate for a period with no objective in mind whatsoever. In a keynote, Alan Cooper argued the futility of racing to be second to market versus waiting for the precocious to make their mistakes—the iPod to the Archos Jukebox. This is the kind of sentiment I want to harness.

Why not run for the train? Because another train will be along shortly. Such is the nature of trains. Running will cause you to miss everything between you and your object, and more often than not leave you disappointed and out of breath.

To flâne is to be neither lean nor agile, but comfortably plump. Relaxed. Zaftig even. A flâneur never runs for the train because of his commitment to serendipity, and because he was clever enough to invest in a schedule."
design  flaneur  walking  doriantaylor  meandering  noticing  dérive  derive  efficiency  information  patternrecognition  understanding  slow  haste  relaxed  agile  nassimtaleb 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Nassim Taleb: my rules for life | Books | The Observer
"Modern life is akin to a chronic stress injury, he says. And the way to combat it is to embrace randomness in all its forms: live true to your principles, don't sell your soul and watch out for the carbohydrates."

"You have to pull back and let the system destroy itself, and then come back. That's Seneca's recommendation. He's the one who says that the sage should let the republic destroy itself."

"The "arguments" are that size, in Taleb's view, matters. Bigger means more complex, means more prone to failure. Or, as he puts it, "fragile". "

""Antifragile" is when something is actually strengthened by the knocks."

"In Taleb's view, small is beautiful."

"[He] claims that a janitor also has that kind of independence. "He can say what he thinks. He doesn't have to fit his ethics to his job. It's not about money.""

"He's also largely an autodidact."

"Between 2004 and 2008 were the worst years of my life. Everybody thought I was an idiot. And I knew that. But at the same time…"
math  teaching  fasting  diet  paleodiet  living  life  seneca  classics  war  thomasfriedman  honor  vindication  deschooling  autonomy  unschooling  anarchism  chaos  randomness  principles  honesty  freedom  academia  banking  money  ethics  socialmisfits  cv  independence  blackswans  failure  probability  antifragility  antifragile  small  fragility  autodidacts  2012  books  nassimtaleb 
november 2012 by robertogreco
7 Essential Skills You Didn't Learn in College | Magazine
"1. Statistical Literacy: Making sense of today’s data-driven world.
2. Post-State Diplomacy: Power and politics, sans government.
3. Remix Culture: Samples, mashups, and mixes.
4. Applied Cognition: The neuroscience you need.
5. Writing for New Forms: Self-expression in 140 characters.
6. Waste Studies: Understanding end-to-end economics.
7. Domestic Tech: How to use the world as your lab."
arts  culture  education  wired  learning  lifehacks  skills  unschooling  deschooling  statistics  literacy  post-statediplomacy  diplomacy  remix  remixculture  appliedcognition  cognition  neuroscience  writing  twitter  microblogging  waste  saulgriffith  fabbing  science  diy  make  making  rogerebert  nassimtaleb  davidkilcullen  robertrauschenberg  jillboltetaylor  brain  barryschwartz  jonahlehrer  robinsloan  alexismadrigal  newliberalarts  remixing 
october 2010 by robertogreco
On Black Swans and Realism | varnelis.net
"A couple of weeks back the Planet Money podcast hosted Nassim Taleb, author of the Black Swan. Click here for the interview. I have not read Taleb's book, although I am likely to now, but I am baffled by how the real estate crisis and the crash of the market could be considered a hard-to-predict or rare event. In that, Taleb seems like an apologist for the neoliberal school of thought which is in love with totalizing arguments: "There is no alternative" or "Nobody could have predicted it." So sorry, but there are alternatives and plenty of us predicted it long in advance. Look, I only have a basic training in economics, but it was a good one, and it was obvious to me that the market was out of whack. Unless somehow more training in economics leads to diminishing returns, the idea that the crash was a black swan seems bizarre, even delusional."
kazysvarnelis  housingbubble  nassimtaleb  markets  economics  blackswans 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Don't Run for Trains
"Snub your destiny. I have taught myself to resist running to keep on schedule. This may seem a very small piece of advice, but it registered. In refusing to run to catch trains, I have felt the true value of elegance and aesthetics in behaviour, a sense of being in control of my time, my schedule, and my life. Missing a train is only painful if you run after it! Likewise, not matching the idea of success others expect from you is only painful if that’s what you are seeking.

You stand above the rat race and the pecking order, not outside of it, if you do so by choice.

[two more quotes]

In Black Swan terms, this means that you are exposed to the improbable only if you let it control you. You always control what you do; so make this your end."

[from the closing pages of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan]
nassimtaleb  ratrace  autonomy  yearoff  selfdetermination  schedules  success  measurement  choice  control  cv  authority  peckingorder  hierarchy  trains  stress  blackswans 
july 2010 by robertogreco
‘We still have the same disease' - The Globe and Mail
"Central bankers have no clue...financial crisis was not a black swan...They ignored the phenomenal buildup in leverage since 1980...After finishing The Black Swan, I realized there was a cancer...huge buildup of risk-taking based on lack of understanding of reality...second problem is hidden risk w/ new financial products...third is interdependence among financial institutions...we still have same amount of debt, but it belongs to governments. Normally debt would get destroyed & turn to air...Are you saying the U.S. shouldn't have done all those bailouts? What was alternative? Blood, sweat & tears. A lot of growth of past few years was fake growth from debt. So swallow losses, be dignified & move on. Suck it up. I gather you're not too impressed with the folks in Washington who are handling this crisis. Ben Bernanke saved nothing! He shouldn't be allowed in Washington...The first thing I would tell Chinese officials is, how can you buy U.S. bonds as long as Larry Summers is there?"
nassimtaleb  culture  finance  banking  collapse  blackswans  crisis  government  bailouts  debt  capitalism  economics 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Antilibraries
"You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary."
kottke  nassimtaleb  umbertoeco  wisdom  knowledge  books  libraries  research  cv  stackofbookstoread  interested  curiosity  learning  habitsofmind  perspective  antilibraries  interestedness 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Ten principles for a Black Swan-proof world by By Nassim Nicholas Taleb
1. What is fragile should break early while it is still small. Nothing should ever become too big to fail. 2. No socialisation of losses & privatisation of gains. 3. People who were driving a school bus blindfolded (& crashed it) should never be given a new bus. 4. No incentives without disincentives: capitalism is about rewards and punishments, not just rewards. 5. Complexity from globalisation and highly networked economic life needs to be countered by simplicity in financial products. The complex economy is already a form of leverage: the leverage of efficiency. 6. Complex derivatives need to be banned because nobody understands them and few are rational enough to know it. 7. Governments should never need to “restore confidence”. 8. Using leverage to cure the problems of too much leverage is not homeopathy, it is denial. 9. Citizens should not depend on financial assets or fallible “expert” advice for their retirement. 10. we will have to remake the system before it does so itself"

[also at: http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/tenprinciples.pdf ]
nassimtaleb  blackswans  2009  capitalism  bailout  corruption  economics  us  business  finance  crisis  simplicity  complexity  politics  banking  recession  regulation  bailouts  resilience 
april 2009 by robertogreco
Dubai and learning about the unknowable - Joi Ito's Web
""Education" and the notion that we actually understand the world causes us to be unprepared for the unpredictable. ... Science, which makes a great attempt at trying to make the world appear predictable, is really a rough approximation of things so that our simple minds can try to grasp the complex world around us. ... part of the reason for my moving to the Middle East was that while I continue to learn in any environment, days that I spend in the US or Japan tend to be mostly similar to previous days & relatively predictable, pushing me towards the somewhat typical mode of feeling in control or knowledgeable about what's going on. ... every day I spend in the Middle East is completely full of surprises & pushes me closer & closer to the understanding that I really don't understand anything. Sort of the pure idiot mode. In a way, I've become more aware & much more mindful of everything. One effect of this is that I less & less fear of the unpredictable & the unknown & unknowable."
joiito  brunolatour  learning  knowledge  understanding  ignorance  humility  unschooling  deschooling  blackswans  tcsnmy  education  nassimtaleb  wisdom  cv  immersion 
february 2009 by robertogreco
cityofsound: The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2007)
"Partly thanks to the breadth of Taleb’s erudition, the more interesting passages here concern our psychological makeup, with advantages and disadvantages endowed by the process of evolution as much as anything. You’ll find much here to aid understanding of how people think - and how people act on instinct, for that matter. Beyond that, our almost subconscious attraction to finding confirmation of one’s notions through active construction of data to support that notion is particularly interesting, and worrying."
blackswans  nassimtaleb  economics  history  danhill  cityofsound  psychology  books  reviews 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Don’t Trust Anyone In A Tie | Print Article | Newsweek.com
"High-frequency data is the problem, because we can't interpret it correctly. Our environment is increasingly complicated, and the data that we choose to single out and interpret isn't always relevant [to the problem we are trying to understand]. You can always find correlations if you look. I could find a correlation between your father's blood pressure & some aspect of the market. Any number that you hear can act as an anchor for your beliefs. If I ask you your Social Security number, then ask you how you think the market will perform, the numbers will be correlated. So you have the idea that you are charting the world of randomness, but you aren't. This goes for funds as well—a lot of the metrics they use are ridiculous." "Take risks away from bankers. Let hedge funds—and the high-net-worth people—take it. At least they aren't threatening society. Also, don't use an economist as Treasury secretary. The world needs fewer economists in general. I believe in psychology, not economics."
nassimtaleb  data  flow  context  bigpicture  relevance  miopia  correlationcausation  randomness  blackswans  finance  analysis  crisis  2008  banking  investment 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Thought Experiments : The Blog: Nassim on Newsnight
"The economists were so implausible, so full of themselves and so smarmy that I feared for my lunch on Monday. Nassim was quivering with anger and, at one point, clutching his chest. He's my lunch. John Gray will be there to - it's the crunch lunch. Anyway, the implausible economists poured empty words over everything while angry Nas tried to explain that it was all meaningless because the most important first step was to ditch all the nonsensical models of risk dreamed up by the quack econs and statisticians employed by banks. This is the point. Salvation - and, come to that, happiness - lies not in bailouts but in a humble acceptance of how little we know and how vain are our self-important attempts to pretend otherwise. This was Nassim's message. It went unheard. On the floor of the bourse the brokers roared on like beasts."
nassimtaleb  blackswans  crisis  2008  finance  economics  bailout 
october 2008 by robertogreco
The Observer profile: Nassim Nicholas Taleb - the new sage of Wall Street | Books | The Observer
"We are, he believes, suckers. 'The tools we have to understand what's happening on Wall Street were developed over the last couple of centuries,' he told the audience at Kentucky's Idea Festival last week. 'We need new tools. We will have to finance the losses because of a huge misunderstanding.' That misunderstanding, he explains in his book, is partly based on our belief that bankers and financial analysts are somehow blessed with superior knowledge. While 'peasants know they can't predict the future', Wall Street bankers believe they can. 'Banks hire dull people and train them to be even more dull. If they look conservative, it's only because their loans go bust on rare, very rare occasions.' But, Taleb believes, bankers are not conservative at all. They are just 'phenomenally skilled at self-deception by burying the possibility of a large, devastating loss under the rug'."
nassimtaleb  economics  books  2008  collapse  crisis  finance  banking  blackswans  statistics  interviews 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Edge: THE FOURTH QUADRANT: A MAP OF THE LIMITS OF STATISTICS By Nassim Nicholas Taleb
"Statistical and applied probabilistic knowledge is the core of knowledge; statistics is what tells you if something is true, false, or merely anecdotal; it is the "logic of science"; it is the instrument of risk-taking; it is the applied tools of epistemology; you can't be a modern intellectual and not think probabilistically—but... let's not be suckers. The problem is much more complicated than it seems to the casual, mechanistic user who picked it up in graduate school. Statistics can fool you. In fact it is fooling your government right now. It can even bankrupt the system (let's face it: use of probabilistic methods for the estimation of risks did just blow up the banking system)."
nassimtaleb  blackswans  decisionmaking  statistics  math  logic  policy  economics  finance  risk  2008  history  future  probability  edge  research  crisis  banking  knowledge  science 
september 2008 by robertogreco
robertogreco {tumblr} - Unschooling and Messiness
"Jessica Shepherd reviews the recently published How Children Learn at Home in the Guardian. The review seems to focus more on the unschooling subset of home education and the part that I find most interesting is the comparison to the messiness that often results in creative leaps. It reminds me of a variety of articles that have been emphasizing the importance of random events and cross-pollination or hybridization of traditional fields of study."
unschooling  crossdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  transdisciplinary  postdisciplinary  nassimtaleb  glvo  crosspollination  messiness  davidsmith  julianbleecker  nicolasnova  robertepstein  design  learning  deschooling  education  creativity  comments  lcproject  schools  technology  consilience  creative  children  homeschool  research  books  blackswans  tinkering  serendipity  specialization  academia  grantmccracken  lelaboratoire  ted  poptech  etech  lift  picnic  lacma  art  science  medicine  us  terminology  vocabulary  specialists 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Pasta&Vinegar » Blog Archive » Taleb's "fooled by randomness"
Nassim Taleb: "I prefer to read poetry. If an event is important enough, it will find its way to my ear...explains why it is better to read the New yorker on Mondays than the Wall Street Journal every morning..." + Nicolas Nova: "reason why I walk around in cities or take so much trains: to have time to ruminate from different “information-filled” places: the internet, my apartment and newsstands+book-shops."
nassimtaleb  randomness  flow  information  predictions  news  attention  trading  bias  patterns  analysis  nicolasnova  blackswans 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Leapfroglog - Playing With Complexity — slides and notes for my NLGD Festival of Games talk
"Data visualization traditionally draws displays of data about things that have happened...Games...models to generate fictional realities....By combining these two...data visualizations that describe what has happened, and predict what could happen."
visualization  design  games  complexity  interaction  play  information  hacking  data  software  simplicity  ixd  interactive  comics  mapping  personalinformatics  janemcgonigal  happinesshacking  nassimtaleb  gamedesign  blackswans 
july 2008 by robertogreco
David Archer: Rules for living by Stone and Taleb
"At the end of a great profile of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Black Swan, is a list of Taleb's rules for living. Coincidentally, a recent profile of Republican operative Roger Stone is interspersed with his own set of "rules," which I've added below
nassimtaleb  advice  culture  living  life  rules  dichotomy  wisdom  blackswans 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Nassim Nicholas Taleb top life tips
"1. Scepticism is effortful and costly. It is better to be sceptical about matters of large consequences, and be imperfect, foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic.

I think scepticism is one of driving motivations behind many entrepreneurs: a healthy scepticism for existing products and people’s predictions invokes the ‘challenger’ mindset. I have honed my scepticism on the small & aesthetic for long enough now…

2. Go to parties. You can’t even start to know what you may find on the envelope of serendipity. If you suffer from agoraphobia, send colleagues.

HOW can you possibly fault a man who holds amongst his top 10 tips: ‘GO TO PARTIES’

3. It’s not a good idea to take a forecast from someone wearing a tie. If possible, tease people who take themselves and their knowledge too seriously.

There is ONE exception to this rule. Never tease a Venture Capitalist. Regardless of the size of his tie. Buy him a drink, complement his colour-co-ordinated cufflinks, but never tease him.

4. Wear your best for your execution and stand dignified. Your last recourse against randomness is how you act — if you can’t control outcomes, you can control the elegance of your behaviour. You will always have the last word.

Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn) once said: ‘If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” And so it is with Snagsta. When the time comes we’ll be wearing our best but at first ‘site’ it may appear as if we got dressed in a bit of a hurry… tucking in our shirt on the way out the door. Kind of my ‘style’ I suppose, given I was once described as looking like an ‘unmade bed’…

5. Don’t disturb complicated systems that have been around for a very long time. We don’t understand their logic. Don’t pollute the planet. Leave it the way we found it, regardless of scientific ‘evidence’.

I didn’t understand that but I am sure it’s deep.

6. Learn to fail with pride — and do so fast and cleanly. Maximise trial and error — by mastering the error part.

There is an interesting debate on the correlation between success and past failure. In my industry the US is very pro-failure, whereas Europe is far more risk-adverse. Statistics suggest there is no correlation but I have hedged my bets by establishing a long track record of failure…

7. Avoid losers. If you hear someone use the words ‘impossible’, ‘never’, ‘too difficult’ too often, drop him or her from your social network. Never take ‘no’ for an answer (conversely, take most ‘yeses’ as ‘most probably’).

Bit late for this advice given I am now inextricably linked to Alex M… he’s not really a loser but has exceptionally dodgy taste in music.

8. Don’t read newspapers for the news (just for the gossip and, of course, profiles of authors). The best filter to know if the news matters is if you hear it in cafes, restaurants… or (again) parties.

I’ve talked about this before. Ironically this list came from the business section of The Times… a Black Swan perhaps?

9. Hard work will get you a professorship or a BMW. You need both work and luck for a Booker, a Nobel or a private jet.

The central theme in Taleb’s book (Black Swan): success has a lot to do with luck. Do whatever you can to put yourself in its way. Luck is less likely to visit you in your bedroom while you’re watching dvds…

10. Answer e-mails from junior people before more senior ones. Junior people have further to go and tend to remember who slighted them.

Given his instantaneous reply to my mail I know exactly how junior Taleb thinks I am. To those of you that I haven’t written back to recently… it’s because you’re so important."

[from the video seen here: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article4022091.ece?print=yes&randnum=1214904808363 another version here: http://blog.snagsta.com/2008/06/13/time-to-party/ ]
nassimtaleb  blackswans  life  skepticism  news  reading  information  risk  investment  luck  failure  success  money  systems  environment  complexity  communication  email 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Nassim Nicholas Taleb: the prophet of boom and doom
"When this man said the world’s economy was heading for disaster, he was scorned. Now traders, economists, even Nasa, are clamouring to hear him speak"
economics  risk  nassimtaleb  blackswans  via:blackbeltjones  sociology  interviews  religion  belief  health  diet  exercise  math  statistics  predictions  science  probability 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Conceptual Trends and Current Topics - Unthinkable Futures - "Believing in the improbable is quickly becoming a survival skill."
List of outrageous (for then, not all now) scenarios imagined by Kevin Kelly & Brian Eno in 1993 including several some school related: "American education works" "Schools abandon attempt to teach 3 Rs" "Schools completely abandon divisions based on age"
predictions  blackswans  nassimtaleb  kevinkelly  brianeno  future  futurism  gamechanging  flexibility  adaptability  survival  education  schools  learning  games  play  human  society  politics  history  technology  children  parenting  skills  teaching  classideas  lcproject  change 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Technology Review: TR10: Modeling Surprise
"Combining massive quantities of data, insights into human psychology, and machine learning can help manage surprising events, says Eric Horvitz."
microsoft  predictions  simulations  traffic  transportation  urban  blackswans  context-awareness  nassimtaleb 
march 2008 by robertogreco
You Can't Predict Who Will Change The World - Forbes.com
"U.S. fosters entrepreneurs & creators, not exam-takers, bureaucrats, deluded economists...perceived weakness of American pupil in conventional studies is where his strength may lie...system of trial & error produces doers: Black Swan-hunting, dream-chasi
blackswans  nassimtaleb  books  constructivism  creativity  gamechanging  education  us  creative  pedagogy  predictions  psychology  future  innovation  trends  forecasting  experimentation  risk  culture  economics  globalization  knowledge  lcproject  homeschool  unschooling  tinkering  deschooling  schools  learning  competition  business  europe  randomness  serendipity 
november 2007 by robertogreco
FT.com / Comment & analysis / Comment - The pseudo-science hurting markets
"Academic economists are no more self-serving than other professions. You should blame those in the real world who give them the means to be taken seriously: those awarding that “Nobel” prize."
finance  investment  markets  trading  influence  economics  nobelprizes  nassimtaleb  blackswans 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Edge: LEARNING TO EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
"Our minds are designed to retain, for efficient storage, past information that fits into a compressed narrative. This distortion, called the hindsight bias, prevents us from adequately learning from the past."
blackswans  nassimtaleb  cognitive  datamining  skepticism  decisionmaking  economics  philosophy  learning  future  statistics  psychology  risk  predictions  randomness 
september 2007 by robertogreco
Artichoke: Bring out your sheep bladders the “key competencies” have arrived.
"Hijacking Taleb’s interpretation it seems entirely plausible that that the few “life long learners” amongst us are mostly a product of happenstance, of luck and nothing to do with the key competencies."
learning  schools  competencies  education  policy  change  reform  human  nature  humannature  nassimtaleb  habits  behavior  skills  attitudes  standards  blackswans  artichokeblog  pamhook 
july 2007 by robertogreco
caveman lunch with taleb [Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan] - part 3 » knackeredhack
"One of the less discussed aspects of the book is an observation on the way children learn. Children possess a natural appreciation for complexity, Taleb argues. But that child-like sense of inquiry, with which all parents are so familiar, is gradually dr
alternative  deschooling  education  learning  pedagogy  philosophy  science  homeschool  schools  lcproject  slow  nassimtaleb  blackswans  math  complexity  benoitmandelbrot  unschooling  schooling 
july 2007 by robertogreco

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