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Kenfig Nature Reserve, originally uploaded by moleitau.

“‘Culture!’ Vergil said, peering around the kitchen wall at me. I said good-bye and hung up the phone. ‘They’re always swimming in that bath of information. Contributing to it. It’s a kind of gestalt thing, whatever. The hierarchy is absolute. They send tailored phages after cells that don’t interact properly. Viruses specified to individuals or groups. No escape. One gets pierced by the virus, the cell blebs outward, it explodes and dissolves. But it’s not a dictatorship, I think they effectively have more freedom than in a democracy. I mean, they vary so differently from individual to individual. Does that make sense? They vary in different ways than we do.’”

- Blood Music, Greg Bear.

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Jones, originally uploaded by straup.

I feel 500 years old at the moment, and luckily I look it also.

Nice picture with the N72 though, Aaron…

Via 3QD: John Allen Paulos on telling just-so stories about the complexity in an article called “The Mousetrap” in Edge:

“Let me begin by asking how it is that modern free market economies are as complex as they are, boasting amazingly elaborate production, distribution and communication systems? Go into almost any drug store and you can find your favourite candy bar. And what’s true at the personal level is true at the industrial level. Somehow there are enough ball bearings and computer chips in just the right places in factories all over the country. The physical infrastructure and communication networks are also marvels of integrated complexity. Fuel supplies are, by and large, where they’re needed. Email reaches you in Miami as well as in Milwaukee, not to mention Barcelona and Bangkok.

The natural question, discussed first by Adam Smith and later by Friedrich Hayek and Karl Popper among others, is who designed this marvel of complexity? Which commissar decreed the number of packets of dental floss for each retail outlet? The answer, of course, is that no economic god designed this system. It emerged and grew by itself. No one argues that all the components of the candy bar distribution system must have been put into place at once, or else there would be no Snickers at the corner store.”

Found by Simon Roberts, this FT article on the futility of trend-watching:

The future is unknowable because it depends on people and because people reflect, have will, make mistakes, co-operate and change their minds and ways. The past turns into one of many possible futures through human agency. The way to understand what is happening in the world is not to draw trajectories on paper but to ask what people are thinking and doing in their own lives and collective endeavours.

I think is what most teams that think about ‘futures’ for a living do, however. The outputs of processes such as scenario planning explicitly create ‘many possible futures’ as navigational aids, not pre-plotted courses to be slavishly followed.

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