Less is more. Literally.
3 October 2008
I’m very excited to have started reading The Social Life of Information, a book which simultaneously supports many of the same conclusions about information theories I’ve read in other works I’ve liked, and blows my hair back with new stuff.
The concept in the introduction of that work that could perhaps be approximated by the old adage that only ten percent of communication is carried by the words spoken in a conversation, with the other ninety left to tone, body language, eye contact, et cetera, is remarkably similar to a conversation I had yesterday at work. Speaking to a gentleman who turned out to be an electronics engineer and music buff, we had a fairly intense conversation about what equipment produces the best quality of sound. While he has more specific knowledge than I, our consensus was that older equipment sounds better for all its messiness of being analog, vinyl, or whatever, than the truncated, cleaned up electronic equipment now so common.
The other book that I’ve learned a lot from, and that I will also name-drop here in an attempt to sound smarter, is Fooled by Randomness, which I started when it was much less apropos and hadn’t been mentioned in the news twice in one week. I don’t understand very much about economics or financial structures, but I do hope that N.N. Taleb finds, as I find, the humor in his rise to fame based on precisely the kind of expertise that he advocates being wary of. He’s been saying the same thing for years, and reality has finally duplicated his predictions. The fact that his particular message includes his trading dictum that he doesn’t mind not winning very often or very much as long as he doesn’t ever lose to events others consider unlikely. Hence black swans. More on that later.