I was re-reading Paul Graham’s Wealth essay today when I realized that he’s talking about Nassim Taleb’s idea of “skin in the game”:
I think everyone who gets rich by their own efforts will be found to be in a situation with measurement and leverage. Everyone I can think of does: CEOs, movie stars, hedge fund managers, professional athletes. A good hint to the presence of leverage is the possibility of failure. Upside must be balanced by downside, so if there is big potential for gain there must also be a terrifying possibility of loss. CEOs, stars, fund managers, and athletes all live with the sword hanging over their heads; the moment they start to suck, they’re out. If you’re in a job that feels safe, you are not going to get rich, because if there is no danger there is almost certainly no leverage.
From Dan Cohen, “Back to the Blog“:
It is psychological gravity, not technical inertia, however, that is the greater force against the open web. Human beings are social animals and centralized social media like Twitter and Facebook provide a powerful sense of ambient humanity—the feeling that “others are here”—that is often missing when one writes on one’s own site. Facebook has a whole team of Ph.D.s in social psychology finding ways to increase that feeling of ambient humanity and thus increase your usage of their service.
From Ryan Holiday’s new book Conspiracy:
It is always revealing to see how a person responds to those situations where he’s told: “There’s nothing you can do about it. This is the way of the world.” Peter Thiel’s friend, the mathematician and economist Eric Weinstein, has a category of individual he defines as a “high-agency person.” How do you respond when told something is impossible? Is that the end of the conversation or the start of one? What’s the reaction to being told you can’t—that no one can? One type accepts it, wallows in it even. The other questions it, fights it, rejects it.
As an engineer, my first response is always to deconstruct the problem. Empathy is important too. Some questions I like to ask:
- Why does this person believe it is impossible?
- What do they know that I don’t or vice versa?
- What are the limiting factors of the outcome that is supposedly impossible?
- What are the actual dynamics of the system that is supposedly impossible to change?
- How do the dynamics of the system differ at other timescales? (Over months, decades, lifetimes…)
- What does everyone believe about the system? What if the opposite is true?
Slate Star Codex discusses postmodernism.
I think Scott actually does a good job explaining some of these concepts. The metaphor at the end is a bit iffy, but overall a nice example of the Principle of Charity.
At the end of the day, the best way to learn postmoderism is to read the postmodernists: Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida, even Merleau-Ponty and Nietzsche.