Nassim Taleb on “antifragility”:: non-sissy uncertainty


English: Escultura dedicada a la Entropía en l...

Taleb rarely disappoints. And here is a “new” word that most of us may understand better as resilience(ish)! For more reading on the subject I would recommend this piece: Antifragility — or— The Property Of Disorder-Loving Systems but I’m sure you will find the following of interest too.

Here’s a quote from the prologue of Antifragility, which should give you a sense of Taleb’s substance and style: “This book is about how to domesticate, even dominate, even conquer, the impenetrable, the unseen, the non-understood, the opaque, the perplexing, and the inexplicable. Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire. Likewise with randomness: you want to use it, not hide from it. You want to be the fire and wish for the wind. This summarizes my non-sissy attitude toward randomness and uncertainty.”

via Non-Sissy Uncertainty: Why I Inflict Nassim “Black Swan” Taleb on My Students | Cross-Check, Scientific American Blog Network.

The complexity of communicating complexity


Complexity is, to many, a pretty abstract concept and that, as some would say, makes it a pretty “tough sell”. Fair point.

It would take a pretty long elevator ride to get the pitch across to someone who has no idea what you are talking about…or why. Having said that I haven’t tested it out on unsuspecting elevator passengers. Mainly because we really don’t have too many buildings tall enough to practice in!!!

If you have visited this blog before (THANK YOU) you will already know that I am prone to quote Seth Godin and Nassim Taleb (NNT). If you didn’t know that go read some of my previous blog entries bearing their tags or Google them and you will find out why. They talk sense and know their subjects sufficiently well that they can simplify even the most “complex” concept.

I take heart from that and work hard to emulate their simplicity when it comes to communicating about complexity…are you getting a measure of the task now???

I have been working hard to “condense” the message about what we do and, broadly, how. But even the PowerPoint presentations tend to run to many more slides than anyone would recommend.

Seth Godin frequently reminds marketers about the need to identify their market and to tailor the message. Better to have 50 “zealots” who really understand what you are saying and will help tailor and spread the message than 500 who will listen, politely, then contribute nothing.

NNT refers, in Fooled by Randomness to a “…rehash of Boileau’s adage”

“What is easy to conceive is clear to express/

Words to say it would come effortlessly”

Qualitative solutions are, by definition, easier to explain using the written word.

Quantitative solutions, particularly one’s (based in science d maths) that address problems of which people tend to be blissfully unaware – even though the body of evidence is considerable – requires more work. I have come to regard it as a type of apprenticeship and remain grateful that there are sufficient number of people with an appreciation of the impact of complexity upon their own business, to keep me from accosting strangers in elevators within VERY tall buildings…

…still I hear New York is great for Christmas shopping!