Start with a bird’s eye overview of the problem being solved. Then, specify a more-or-less detailed codemap. Describe coarse-grained modules and how they relate to each other. Codemap should answer “where’s the thing that does X?”. It should also answer “what does the thing that I am looking at do?”. Avoid going into details of how each module works, pull this into separate documents or (better) inline documentation. Codemap is a map of a country, and not an atlas of maps of its states. Use this as a chance to reflect on the project structure.
My role models, or, a few stories of others to live by, 2021
Software engineering is an almost paradoxical juxtaposition of collaboration and isolation: successful software engineers are able to work well with (and understand the needs of!) others, but are also able to focus intensely on their own… They must be able to build castles of imagination, and yet still understand the constraints of a grimy reality: they must be arrogant enough to see the world as it isn’t, but humble enough to accept the world as it is.
Distributed systems are a particular challenge. There are many valid
reasons for splitting systems into different deployable units (usually
microservices). However, distributed systems also make many things difficult
Prerequisites), including developer effectiveness. Sometimes teams
might optimize for team autonomy or for runtime performance, but they sacrifice
developer effectiveness because they do not invest in maintaining fast
feedback loops. This is a very common situation my company runs into.
Those two minutes can add up quickly, and could top 100 minutes a day.
These small pauses are opportunities to lose context and focus. They are
long enough for a developer to get distracted, decide to open an email or go
and get a coffee, so that now they are distracted and out of their state of
flow, there is research that indicates it can
take up to 23 minutes to get back into the state of flow and return to high
productivity. I am not suggesting that engineers should not take breaks and
clear their head occasionally! But they should do that intentionally, not
enforced by the environment.,
Being productive motivates developers.
Without the friction, they have time to think creatively and apply
know what type of organization they are striving to build. The four key
metrics (lead time, deployment frequency, MTTR and change fail percentage)
are great measures of DevOps performance.
Context switching costs more than we give it credit for., Mayank Verma, 2021
Grouping/responding to all emails is an email function. Even that is further broken down into triaging email function and responding function.,
But when it comes to work, especially engineering work, the cost of multitasking skyrockets. Because (for software engineers) all tasks fall under cognitive function. And as a result, it requires a lot of context switches.,
Writing code and reviewing code are now two separate functions within the same cognitive function. Even writing/reviewing code for two separate code bases are two separate sub-functions.
How to remember what you learn, Vasili Shynkarenka., 2021
After I’m done with the summary, I write down the answers to three questions:
What are the key ideas?
How can I apply this knowledge that I learned?
How do these ideas relate to what I already know?,
Make it time-based, take regular breaks, and learn what you’re curious about.
But the purpose of this “picture walk” reading is different; it’s to catch my curiosity. And curiosity is different from understanding because it’s either happens or not. It’s like you’re seeing a pretty girl; you don’t really sit and reason, “well, do I really like her?”,
By taking just 10 minutes a day to quickly scroll through the book instead of my Twitter feed, I end up having 365 books scrolled in a year. From these 365, about two end up being life-changing, ten – deeply interesting, and ten – sort of interesting. Everything else is noise. 94%.
Now, do the math. If I didn’t have this discovery routine and aimed to read books from cover to cover, I’d randomly sample about twenty books from 365 with meager chances of all of them being good. And I was doing that for years. So don’t repeat my mistake and invest 5-10 minutes a day to discover what you learn from, because learning is like eating. You become what you consume.,
. I usually start from the book description to understand what it’s about, and write down a couple sentences, trying to guess what’s coming up. Then I go straight to the table of contents and see if anything catches my attention there,
The second file is where I write about what I’m learning. Folks in the kitchen call it metacognition, which means thinking about thinking. Metacognition is the single best trick I’ve found to improve understanding, and I will write more about it in the future. Whenever I don’t understand something or see that my understanding is shallow, I begin writing in the first person. It looks like this: “So Peter explains that there are four characteristics of a monopoly, but I don’t really understand why branding is one of them; why so?”,
Having a file with my thinking about the subject keeps my working memory clean. I don’t feel overloaded as I usually feel after reading many articles at one go. You’ve probably experienced this yourself; your brain is almost melting after an hour of scrolling through the web. That’s because you present yourself with too much information without really making sense of it. After a few months of applying metacognitive practices, I realized that I can’t go back. It just feels so strange to experience that cognitive load again.,
So much of what we call creativity and intelligence is just memory. If you think you can look it up on Google, you’re wrong. The thought process is way faster than looking stuff up, and when you’re thinking about something or solving an important problem, you have to have your toolkit ready. Also, the most interesting ideas come when you’re not at your desk but showering, glazing over stars or wandering around in the city center. When you can’t Google. And this tiny 10-minute habit of recalling ideas is totally worth it if you think of the implications on a fifty-year timeframe.,
file with questions,
A file with a timestamp where my random thoughts go.
A file with a timestamp where I think about the subject.
A file with questions.
My goals for 2021, interesting lives, and other considerations, 2021
In every complex system, there are two sets of rules: the rules that everyone thinks describe the system, and the actual rules by which the system really works. In software, we call these two rules the “specification” and the “implementation”.
No Meetings, No Deadlines, No Full-Time Employees, 2021
We also have an “anti-overtime” rate: past twenty hours a week, people can continue to work at an hourly rate of 50 percent. This allows us to have a high hourly rate for the highest leverage work and also allows people to work more per week if they wish.
Because I was burned out and didn’t want to think about working any more than I needed to, I instituted a no-meeting, no-deadline culture.
For me, it was no longer about growth at all costs, but “freedom at all costs.”
Her shape on that diagram, then, represents all those responsibilities. Emily’s shape is finite: it is bounded on all sides. It doesn't shoot off into infinity. And all the adjacent shapes are other people’s roles. ,
The challenges Paul faces are the challenges of a man faced with infinite potential and limited time. And to succeed, he’ll need vision, personal talent, discipline, confidence, and decisiveness.,
Paul has a team, now, and they look to him for management and counsel. They’re mostly finite shapes, so they need a manager who can tell them about political savvy and nuance and help them develop the skills of working within their constrained roles but still having an impact.
But Paul doesn't know how to do any of that. He knows how to forge ahead and make big decisions and push on things so they get done. And none of those are appropriate behaviors for his new team members.,
The way you avoid waste in small organizations is by staying lean and not wasting time with politics. In larger organizations, it’s almost the opposite: you avoid waste by respecting the boundary lines between shapes and navigating them with nuanced coordination, communication, and management, none of which are usually strengths for people like Paul, who got to where he did precisely because he thrives when there aren't boundary lines.,
To succeed, the skills she’ll need include discipline and personal talent for the production work, of course, but moreover she’ll need the political savvy and social skills to navigate the boundaries between her shape and others’ with nuance,
Those boundaries are dark black lines in the diagrams, but in reality they’re much fuzzier – they have to be fluid. And when you are in a role like Emily’s, the fluidity at the boundary is the most interesting part. That example is a simple one, too. They get far more complicated:,
People like Paul, when they give advice, often focus on personal effectiveness, alpha behavior, and triage, and deride or overlook the importance of management, coordination, and “overhead.” They are allergic to process and overhead because for small companies, that’s the right way to be. It takes tremendous self-awareness, humility, and flexibility for people in Paul’s situation to internalize the changes intrinsic to a growing company and develop that new skill set,
People in privileged positions who don’t understand the importance of relationship-building and nuance in larger organizations end up marauding through situations and leaving them even worse off, all the while thinking they’re being highly effective.,
Because his tenure makes him the 800lb gorilla, but people in Paul’s situation can be surprisingly oblivious to this. Often, Paul doesn't understand why other people don’t just behave like he does. After all, it works for him!,
Paul’s shape is infinite – if you keep zooming out, it keeps going. There are no boundaries at the edges. Paul’s responsibilities look like this:
Decide what needs to be done.
Do all of it.,
In terms of the visual metaphor, the difference between them is that Emily’s shape is finite and Paul’s is infinite. A finite shape has a finite list of responsibilities, and the nuance is in the fractal intricacy of its boundary with all the other shapes. An infinite shape’s responsibilities end with “et cetera”, and the nuance is in triage: The shape is infinite, but the person occupying it is finite.
The interesting part is when conditions change.
We used the NABC model from Stanford. The model starts with defining the Need, followed by Approach, Benefits, and lastly, Competitors. Separating the Need from the approach is very smart. While writing the need, the authors have to understand it very well. The approach and benefits sections are pretty straightforward, where authors define their strategy and list down the advantages.,
The RFC process uses a document written by someone about their proposal on a topic. It has a specific timeframe and everyone can give feedback on it. The RFC and feedbacks are posted publicly. Everyone can join the discussion. The goal is to include as many people as possible to access more points of view and spread the knowledge simultaneously. The good thing is that people focus on the proposed idea and give their feedback based on facts instead of only beliefs. On the other hand, it has a way bigger effect.,
These hidden gems of writing the idea in a structured way and asking people for comments afterward prevents many endless debates,
The process seeks a consent-based environment, not a consensus-based one. If some people care about a topic a lot and come up with a written document that explains many things in detail, everyone can (and should) trust them. The authors shouldn't wait for everyone's confirmation of their proposal. When they get enough feedback, they should be able to continue further with or abandon the idea. It's their decision. Since they prepared the doc and collected many comments on it, they can have a better judgment.,
That's why we need to balance both taking action and asking people to present their opinion on a topic. This balance is achievable with an excellent process.
I helped build this balanced process in an organization where we aimed to solve another problem - the lack of feedback. We introduced a process called Request For Comments (RFC). It is a common feedback mechanism in the software world presented by the Internet Society (ISOC) and used currently in the Rust language
How do you know when you should have a difficult conversation? Obviously you shouldn't berate people constantly just because you believe they could be doing a tiny bit better. Let's say you have someone who's doing fine, could probably be doing more, but when you probe a bit, seems totally content. Just mention to him the options - "If you ever want to do more, we can talk about that" - and leave it at that. He doesn't have a problem. Don't project your impatience onto people. But if you have someone who's not succeeding and wants to be, or who clearly wants to do more and is being held back by limitations he doesn't understand or believe, that's a dissonance. Dissonance is a signal that you need to have a difficult conversation,
If you're afraid of difficult conversations, only having difficult conversations will make you less afraid. And second, it gets better. Have those difficult conversations and the fear will recede. I promise.,
The key part of a difficult conversation is being in touch with the proper intention when you go into it. In a nutshell, that intention is this: I am telling you these observations I have made even though it is difficult for me because I care about you and believe they may help you learn and grow.
Here are a few notable things that aren't part of that intention: I expect you to take this advice. My observations are absolutely correct. I am personally attached to the outcome. I know better than you do what's appropriate for you. I'm telling you this because I want you to see me as smart. I'm telling you this because I like identifying as a "mentor" or "teacher" or "wise person."
Setting up personal OKR [JFM-2021], Pravendra Singh, 2021
I love when my current problem can be solved with a state machine. They’re fun to design and implement, and I have high confidence about correctness. They tend to:
Present minimal, tidy interfaces
Require few, fixed resources
Hold no opinions about input and output
Have a compact, concise implementation
Be easy to reason about
But at higher levels, there's just too much to spell it all out. It's important to try, to define boundaries for that shape so you have some way to talk about them, but you can't capture all of it in full detail. It relies on a mutual understanding about implied work.
Some work yields knowledge that you need to do other work, and so a viable role that does one of these things must do the other.,
If you're in charge of writing some code, you also have to comment it, because if you don't, nobody else will understand it well enough to do it for you. If you're in charge of coming up with a creative direction for a project, you also need to communicate it outwards to others, because if you don't, nobody else knows enough to do it for you.
As you get more senior, maybe you're a specialist, so your shape gets bigger and the boundary remains nice and clear. Or you end up as a lead, and you're able to fill spaces in the project and pick up slack that few others can, so your boundary gets messier,
These diagrams I'm drawing fundamentally express project development as a subtractive process: you start with a mountain of stuff to get done, and by the time you're done, someone will have done all of it. These diagrams visualize the abstract notion that there's "all the work" and each person subtracts some of it from the space, and you're done when everything has been subtracted.
But not all work is subtractive. Consider a factory worker assembling cars. If he assembles 2 cars in a day, he makes the company a profit; if he works harder and assembles 4 cars in a day, he makes the company twice as much. This is an additive sort of work. You can do the same work, but just more of it, and you generate more value.
Creative endeavors are not additive. They are iterative, convergent processes, and so they are subtractive: you work until you have converged, and then you stop.,
During conversations about performance, everything you talk about should boil down to one thing: the value they contribute to the team. What is their value, and how can they become more valuable?,
And to managers, I'd say: when you talk to your reports, help them think about their work and everyone's work as subtractive, as cutting out shapes from the big space of all work. Tell them what things are clearly theirs, and talk about those with whom they share boundaries, and what those boundaries should be. Talk about imperatives: tell them what kinds of problems you foresee and what roles you see them playing in the solutions. Talk about the whole project, even the stuff they'd never otherwise hear about - especially that stuff. Give them context. Talk about convergence. Help them see their shapes.
There is another trait that took me many years to notice, and that is the ability to tolerate ambiguity. Most people want to believe what they learn is the truth: there are a few people who doubt everything. If you believe too much then you are not likely to find the essentially new view that transforms a field, and if you doubt too much you will not be able to do much at all. It is a fine balance between believing what you learn and at the same time doubting things. Great steps forward usually involve a change of viewpoint to outside the standard ones in the field.
With systems design, the key insight might be a one-sentence explanation given at the right time to the right person, that affects the next 5 years of work, or is the difference between hypergrowth and steady growth.,
Our team felt flat and egalitarian. But you can't ever forget that it was only that way because you forced it to be that way.",
A "disruptive" innovation was meant to refer to specifically the kind you see in that plot up above: the kind where an entirely new thing sucks for a very long time, and then suddenly and instantly blows you away. This is the kind that creates the dilemma.,
if you were a Novice going for Junior, you had to prove you could fix bugs without too much supervision; going for Senior, you had to prove you could implement a whole design without too much supervision; going for Staff, you had to show you could produce designs based on business problems with basically no management; going for Senior Staff, you had to solve bigger and bigger business problems; and so on.
If you want to see if something works, make it. The whole thing. The simplest version of the whole thing – that’s what version 1.0 is supposed to be. But make that, put it out there, and learn. If you want answers, you have to ask the question, and the question is: Market, what do you think of this completed version 1.0 of our product?
When I hear MVP, I don’t think Minimum Viable Product. I think Minimum Viable Pie. The food kind.
A slice of pie is all you need to evaluate the whole pie. It’s homogenous. But that’s not how products work. Products are a collection of interwoven parts, one dependent on another, one leading to another, one integrating with another. You can’t take a slice a product, ask people how they like it, and deduce they’ll like the rest of the product once you’ve completed it. All you learn is that they like or don’t like the slice you gave them.,
Truth is, you don’t know, you won’t know, you’ll never know until you know and reflect back on something real. And the best way to find out, is to believe in it, make it, and put it out there. You do your best, you promote it the best you can, you prepare yourself the best way you know how. And then you literally cross your fingers. I’m not kidding.
You can’t validate something that doesn’t exist. You can’t validate an idea. You can’t validate someone’s guess. You can’t validate an abstraction. You can’t validate a sketch, or a wireframe, or an MVP that isn’t the actual product.
You can improve your communication skills with practice much more effectively than you can improve your intelligence with practice. If you’re not that smart but can communicate ideas clearly, you have a great advantage over everybody who can’t communicate clearly.,
Explaining problems is good. Often in the process of laying out a problem, a solution will present itself. ,
Defining yourself by your suffering is an effective way to keep suffering forever (ex. incels, trauma).
. I convinced myself that, once I banished all the technology from my life, I’d become the disciplined writer and focused father I’d always strived to be.
Talk about a rude awakening. Sitting at my ancient word processor, my eyes began to peer over to my now-tantalising bookshelf. ‘Hmmm,’ I said to myself, ‘I really should take a glance at this book’. I’d justify the distraction as necessary for ‘research’. And if it wasn’t reading, then I’d find something else – the laundry that needed to be folded right now, my desk that needed to be tidied-up this minute. The technology wasn’t distracting me. I was distracting me.,
Or in reality, I could get comfortable with the discomfort that I might indeed be missing out on something,
I discovered that I was just as susceptible to being distracted by a news report or a dirty closet as I was by a glowing screen. Does that mean I cut out the news, or let my closets go? No. It meant having to figure out what I was avoiding (writing) and why I was avoiding it (all the writerly anxieties) and then dealing with those. It also meant building systems to manage my time, attention and internet use.
2020 becomes the decade of data. The 2010s were the decade of software and SaaS, the era when Salesforce become the first SaaS company to sail past the $100B market cap mark. The 2020s will be the era of data companies boosting massive markets. Database startups, data movement startups, data quality startups, data lineage startups, machine learning startups will be the zeitgeist of the decade as they shape the next wave of massive innovation.
What comes after smartphones?, Benedict Evans, 2020
There’s an old saying that the first fifty years of the car industry were about creating car companies and working out what cars should look like, and the second fifty years were about what happened once everyone had a car - they were about McDonalds and Walmart, suburbs and the remaking of the world around the car, for good and of course bad. The innovation in cars became everything around the car.
The three components of independent-mindedness work in concert: fastidiousness about truth and resistance to being told what to think leave space in your brain, and curiosity finds new ideas to fill it.
Interestingly, the three components can substitute for one another in much the same way muscles can. If you're sufficiently fastidious about truth, you don't need to be as resistant to being told what to think, because fastidiousness alone will create sufficient gaps in your knowledge. And either one can compensate for curiosity, because if you create enough space in your brain, your discomfort at the resulting vacuum will add force to your curiosity. Or curiosity can compensate for them: if you're sufficiently curious, you don't need to clear space in your brain, because the new ideas you discover will push out the conventional ones you acquired by default.,
One of the most effective techniques is one practiced unintentionally by most nerds: simply to be less aware what conventional beliefs are. It's hard to be a conformist if you don't know what you're supposed to conform to. Though again, it may be that such people already are independent-minded. A conventional-minded person would probably feel anxious not knowing what other people thought, and make more effort to find out.,
You don't want to start a startup to do something that everyone agrees is a good idea, or there will already be other companies doing it. You have to do something that sounds to most other people like a bad idea, but that you know isn't like writing software for a tiny computer used by a few thousand hobbyists, or starting a site to let people rent airbeds on strangers' floors.
Ditto for essayists. An essay that told people things they already knew would be boring. You have to tell them something new.
An important distinction between virtual machines and containers is that VM virtualizes underlying hardware whereas the container virtualizes the underlying operating system. Both have their own use cases. Interestingly, many container deployments use VM as their host operating system rather than running directly on bare metal.
As long as you pay your bills, the water supply to your house is probably fully automated. When you turn on a tap, you don’t need to have requested there to be water in the pipes first. The companies that manage the water supply handle the complexity.,
Complexity is like energy. It cannot be created or destroyed, only moved somewhere else. When a product or service becomes simpler for users, engineers and designers have to work harder. Norman writes, “With technology, simplifications at the level of usage invariably result in added complexity of the underlying mechanism. ” For example, the files and folders conceptual model for computer interfaces doesn’t change how files are stored, but by putting in extra work to translate the process into something recognizable, designers make navigating them easier for users.
The right way to deal with new ideas is to treat them as a challenge to your imagination not just to have lower standards, but to switch polarity entirely, from listing the reasons an idea won't work to trying to think of ways it could.,
Making new things is itself a new thing for us as a species. It has always happened, but till the last few centuries it happened so slowly as to be invisible to individual humans. And since we didn't need customs for dealing with new ideas, we didn't develop any.
We just don't have enough experience with early versions of ambitious projects to know how to respond to them. We judge them as we would judge more finished work, or less ambitious projects. We don't realize they're a special case.
Apple University Dean Shares Deep Dive Into Apple's Organizational Structure, Juli Clover, 2020
Apple's structure dictates that the people who have the most expertise and experience in a given domain should have the decision rights for that domain, with the company relying on technical experts rather than managers to make key decisions.
Leaders should know the details of their organization three levels down," is one of Apple's principles.
The systems viewpoint is generally oriented toward the long-term view. That’s why delays and feedback loops are so important. In the short term, you can often ignore them; they’re inconsequential. They only come back to haunt you in the long term.
Thus, we may cut our advertising budgets, see the benefits in terms of cost savings, and in turn further trim spending in this area. In the short run there may be little impact on people’s demands for our goods and services, but longer term the decline in visibility may have severe penalties. An appreciation of systems will lead to recognition of the use of, and problems with, such reinforcing feedback, and also an understanding of the place of balancing (or stabilizing) feedback. Peter Senge
I don’t dream about not being bipolar, because I don’t know where my self ends and where the illness begins—and if there is even really a difference. And I don’t know what I would dream to render the divisions between good sick and bad sick unnecessary, to make it so that we all get to remain people, without sacrificing some of us to quarantine and cautionary tale.
Marc Andreessen On Productivity, Scheduling, Reading Habits, Work, and More, Marc Andreessen,Sriram Krishnan, 2020
It’s basically trying to try to fill in all the puzzle pieces for the big discrepancies.A great term is “sense-making”. Essentially, what the hell is happening and why? The world’s an incredibly complex and erratic place and trying to figure that out is kind of a lifetime occupation.,
the D.R.I. For any project, I’ve tried to identify the DRI. Who is the person responsible for delivering the project? If that’s me, then the project itself gets on my calendar.,
The firm is built to accomplish what I want to accomplish. And then my role here is to accomplish that within the context of the firm. And so the short answer is always the same — how do we optimize for the success of the firm? For the projects the firm is involved in, how do I optimize my contribution to that? So, you know, it’s been the same answer to the question every year for 11 years in a row and I don’t think it’ll change anytime soon. I think it’s more of trying to tune against a single goal as compared to trying to rethink the goals.
But real extraordinary is nothing like this. Yes, it's exciting, but it also comes with sacrifices, limitations, and constraints. And it's not permanent. Extraordinary can disappear over time, just like you can achieve it over time.
If it's a Nice Problem to Have, Don't Solve it Now, 2020
An example to illustrate is signup functionality. Let's say I'm starting on a new product. Without signup, there's no possibility of getting any users, which is a problem. From my perspective right now, is this a nice problem to have? No - I have zero users right now, and can't get any until signup is done. The only way to move forwards is to build signup.
Misunderstanding "Skin in the Game", Alex Danco, 2020
Upside incentive can matter a great deal, but it has almost nothing to do with skin in the game the way that Taleb uses the phrase. When Taleb talks about “Skin in the game”, he’s talking about survival. A small business owner does not have SitG because she’s incentivized to run her business well; she has SitG because if she doesn’t run her business well, then it doesn’t stick around. ,
just raise less money! It’ll force you to work harder, learner, and smarter, and it’ll force you to get things right faster, or run out of cash trying. But I’ll bet you that’s not what these people have in mind.,
The core, unifying theme across all of Taleb's writing - from his early work around randomness and The Black Swan through later works like Antifragility and Skin in the Game - is the logic of risk-taking. Taleb takes great offence at creating work, exercise, or any other kind of activity that’s designed to consciously offload risk from the participant; he’s particularly fond of complaining about elliptical machines at the gym, jogging, or really any kind of exercise that isn’t free weight deadlifting. But I have a distinct feeling that he would be willing to make an exception for trail running, which seems like it’d be a lot more in his ballpark.
As a programmer, I tried to make sure that I was only ever working on one thing at a time. Even if I got stuck on that one thing—say I was blocked on waiting for a tech partner to give me API documentation—I’d let myself stay stuck instead of sliding off to work on something else.
In the short term, this made me less efficient, because I’d spend less time programming and more time staring vacantly at the ceiling. But if I stared vacantly for long enough, I’d eventually get mad enough to, e.g., reverse-engineer the partner’s API in a fit of rage. This resulted in me shipping my most important projects faster, hence getting faster compounding growth.
Derek Sivers & The Art of Enough, Brendan Cahill, 2020
If you really want to grow, focus solely on your preexisting clients.
None of your customers will ask you to turn your attention to expanding. They want you to keep your attention focused on them.
The more my own businesses have grown and the more the businesses of my friends have grown the more headaches they’ve experienced.
Instead of trying to grow your business in volume or quantity grow it qualitatively.
Your current clients are going to be your best source of newer clients anyway.
No one knew what to make of the web at that time, so we pulled over things we were familiar with and sunk them in place. At that time, Web design wasn’t web design – it was print design, multimedia/interactive design, and graphic design. It took years for native web design to come into its own.,
They’ll have stopped trying to make remote look like local. They’ll have discovered that remote work means more autonomy, more trust, more uninterrupted stretches of time, smaller teams, more independent, concurrent work (and less dependent, sequenced work)
In a fragile system, that stressor creates uncertainty. You had a plan, and you were good to follow that plan so long as you stayed within a certain state. But now you’re thrown into a new state, so your plan no longer works. You’re in trouble. That’s fragility.
In a robust system, that stressor is information-neutral. You had a plan, and there’s enough buffer or slack in your system to absorb the stressor. Your state is resilient to the new challenge; the plan continues.
In an antifragile system, that stressor resolves uncertainty. You had no preexisting plan; the stressor tells you what to do. In an antifragile system, stressors are information. Without stressors, an antifragile system is rudderless. It doesn’t know how to grow or what to do. It actively suffers, until a challenge gives it direction.,
Accordingly, antifragile systems and organisms tend towards a common theme: bottoms-up decision-making, rather than top-down decision making. Antifragility requires real options, and real options are low-cost. Antifragility is only successful if you can actually detect, react, and grow in response to deviations from your present state in real time; the only way you can feasibly do this is for disorder detection and response to take place at a small enough resolution, and tight enough turnaround time. Top-down systems have a hard time with antifragility, because for them, all options are costly. ,
Antifragility is something you do, rather than something you have or something you are. Antifragility is an operating state of growing through continuous reaction. It’s like the opposite of predicting the future. You’re not making any forward-looking assumptions about anything, but you need disorder: you need a state change to have something to react to. Good antifragile systems react quickly and correctly, like the Hydra growing new heads when you cut one off. Without disorder, the Hydra doesn’t grow.
Looking Back on Four Years at The Times, Nick Rockwell, 2020
Individuals maximally propagate information from their past to their future. This propagation is measurable, at least in theory. Therefore, individuality ought to also be measurable.,
Or the sender could be you twenty years ago, the recipient is you today, and the message is that arrangement of neurons and synapses in your brain that have somehow retained every single word of the song No Scrubs by TLC, even though you haven’t heard that song in years.
Ditto for correctness, importance, and strength. In effect the four components are like numbers you can multiply together to get a score for usefulness. Which I realize is almost awkwardly reductive, but nonetheless true.
Eine Handvoll mutige Menschen machen eine lebensdienliche Wirtschaft, 2020
And yet, isn’t this exactly the trade-off that real smartphones demand, a constant lifeline to new options, all more or less the same in nature, judged valuable by how many likes or hearts they accrue?,
Every effort is valid, every accomplishment exchangeable for capital. Want to do no job whatsoever, but just sit on stumps and shake a tambourine? That’s fine too; there are no consequences for not earning “bells.” Nobody cares in Animal Crossing. You are okay.,
But according to the Tom Nook doctrine, pastoralism and capitalism coexist perfectly. You can fish for high-value red snappers and sell them to buy espadrilles for your character, or 1950s-diner furnishings for your house. Or you can fish for never-before-seen specimens, to donate them to the museum. Or you can cast a line just to enjoy watching the moon dance across the water. All of these activities are interchangeable and equally delightful. Animal Crossing sees no greater or lesser virtue in one than another.