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Antifragile

Hydra, in Greek mythology, is a serpent-like creature that dwells in the lake of Lerna, near Argos, and has numerous heads. Each time one is cut off, two grow back. So harm is what it likes. Hydra represents antifragility.   The sword of Damocles represents the side effect of power and success: you cannot rise and rule without facing this continuous danger—someone out there will be actively working to topple you. And like the sword, the danger will be silent, inexorable, and discontinuous. It will fall abruptly after long periods of quiet, perhaps at the very moment one has gotten used...

Blockchain Revolution

  Every ten minutes, like the heartbeat of the bitcoin network, all the transactions conducted are verified, cleared, and stored in a block which is linked to the preceding block, thereby creating a chain. Each block must refer to the preceding block to be valid. This structure permanently time-stamps and stores exchanges of value, preventing anyone from altering the ledger. If you wanted to steal a bitcoin, you’d have to rewrite the coin’s entire history on the blockchain in broad daylight. That’s practically impossible. So the blockchain is a distributed ledger representing a network...

How Media Is Hacking Our Brains

  It’s easy to forget the unique place human beings occupy in evolutionary history. A recent discovery published in the journal Nature dates the earliest Homo sapiens to be 300,000 years old. By comparison the scientific revolution is only 500 years old, the United States only 200 years old, and the iPhone just 10 years old. For hundreds of thousands of years, we have lived in small and atomized communities where technology only played a peripheral role and information technologies were virtually nonexistent. Information was transmitted primarily through speech limiting its spreading...

Neil Postman on the Fear of Writing

You will find in Plato’s Phaedrus a story about Thamus, the king of a great city of Upper Egypt. For people such as ourselves, who are inclined (in Thoreau’s phrase) to be tools of our tools, few legends are more instructive than his. The story, as Socrates tells it to his friend Phaedrus, unfolds in the following way: Thamus once entertained the god Theuth, who was the inventor of many things, including number, calculation, geometry, astronomy, and writing. Theuth exhibited his inventions to King Thamus, claiming that they should be made widely known and available to Egyptians...

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