Monthly Archives: January 2008

Six Degrees vs The Tipping Point and the problem with metaphors.

Kevin Kelly writes on something that is getting a fair amount of attention: the new book by Duncan Watts (Six Degrees). Watts critiques another book by Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point), and Kevin Kelly does a good job of commenting on it.

My problem with all this analysis is the use of metaphors. Using metaphors of disease or forest fires helps model and understand the characteristic of certain activities (e.g. the success of failure of certain forms of communications), but they are just that, models. And limited ones at that. It’s good that Watts has shown the limits of Gladwell’s metaphor. But I suspect his metaphor is just as limited.

What boys dream…

Philosophical podcasts from Schopenhauer to Plato

When everyone else on the bus is bopping along to hip hop, you can be grooving to Schopenhauer’s “The World as Will and Idea” if you surf over to here.

For truly smart people. (I didn’t know they had podcasts in Plato’s time! 🙂 )

Why giving up your privacy doesn’t make you more secure.

Over at is a very concise argument on why giving up your privacy doesn’t make you more secure. Key quote:

“Confiscating shaving cream and nail files at the airport doesn’t make anyone safer. Neither does creating a national ID card, because terrorists rely on surprise, not anonymity. The fundamental issue is that real security involves focusing resources on identifying and stopping the tiny fraction of the population that is engaged in criminal and terrorist acts. The vast majority of people pose no threat to anyone, and it’s a waste of resources to monitor them. “

See Techdirt: If You’re Watching Everyone, You’re Watching No One for the entire article.

How to make a dark room seem light (and well lit)…

…by reading this article, Chasing the Darkness With Sleight of Hand in the New York Times, which presents a nice case study on how to make a dark room light up. It features a room by Jeffrey Bilhuber, a Manhattan interior designer, whose client had a bedroom in their apartment with very little light. The end result is light and very attractive. Lots of good ideas to borrow here.

Valentino is done

To people outside the world of fashion, this could be a big, “eh…whatever”. But after 45 years as a leading designer, it’s a big thing that Valentino does his last haute couture fashion show (in Paris, of course). This piece in the NYT’s doesn’t do him justice. Maybe we’ll need the New Yorker to do a story on him, like they did for Lagerfeld recently. In the meantime, see So This Is It: Valentino – On the Runway – Fashion – Style – New York Times Blog

From the Fake Steve Jobs blog to the Fake Hillary twitter

An interesting development of parody / satire. See: Twitter / fakehillary