Monthly Archives: May 2011

Louis Pasteur is credited with the observation that chance can only help the well-prepared mind. I also think that my long string of lucky breaks can be credited to my mode of paying attention: I look at funny things and never hesitate to ask questions. Most people would not have noticed the dirty blackboard, or looked at the article that my uncle gave me because he was not interested.

via Edge: THE FATHER OF LONG TAILS — Interview with Benoît Mandelbrot by Hans Ulrich Obrist. For extra credit and an exercise in brevity and clarity, link or write in the comments the simplest definition of “fractal” as used by Mandelbrot and Obrist in the interview.

I may be overstating the case, a little bit. Very probably, you’re sick to death of hearing social media disrespected by cranky 51-year-olds. My aim here is mainly to set up a contrast between the narcissistic tendencies of technology and the problem of actual love. My friend Alice Sebold likes to talk about “getting down in the pit and loving somebody.” She has in mind the dirt that love inevitably splatters on the mirror of our self-regard.

Johnathan Franzen’s Liking is for Cowards in the NY Times.

The Internet measures everything. And I am a slave to those measurements. After so many years of pushing much of my life through this screen, I’ve started measuring my experiences and my sense of self-worth using the same metrics as the Internet uses to measure success. I check my stats relentlessly. The sad truth is that I spend more time measuring than I spend doing.

Fantastic read over at Tweetage Wasteland : I Don’t Care if You Read This Article. Or put another way “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Hat tip: Mark Riley.

I believe the mini-bubbles above are different ripples in what might call the surface of a superbubble: an opulence bubble. Here’s what I mean by opulence bubble: our conception of the good life, as I’ve discussed with you, has been centered on what I call hedonic opulence — having more, bigger, faster, cheaper, now. But we might be finding out, the hard way, that the pursuit of lowest-common-denominator industrial age stuff might have been steeply overvalued, in terms of its social, human, and financial value.

The Opulence Bubble by Umair Haque. Hat tip: Tim Bray and Paul Kedrosky.