The crash of the presidential plane over Smolensk is a terrible and cruel tragedy for Poland, not only because of the loss of all these people, and the immeasurable pain for their families, but also because they were all going to nearby Katyn to pay their respects. How cruel life can be. [*]
There is a lot to be said for the inevitability of a complex system’s collapse, starting from the second law of thermodynamics, going through the costs of rising complexity usually purchased at the expense of system stability, and ending with the crucial point where a system’s capacity to adapt to a changing environment fizzles out precisely because of the need for stability. This inevitability seems to hold true for all kinds of complex systems, from bio-ecologies, to organizational models and societies. Couple of fascinating posts on this:
In his The Collapse of Complex Business Models, Clay Shirky makes an interesting argument on the future of the current business model of media production. Basing on Joseph Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies, and using as an example TV companies, Shirky argues that the active participants of complex systems are at the end simply unable to integrate a new rule-set into the complex structure of the system, therefore causing the at first paradoxical situation where ‘the most powerful/connected/etc’ are the least capable of innovating to survive. As a media company how do you compete with content such as Charlie bit my finger when your content production costs are astronomical by comparison, and you cannot afford to lower them if you want to remain in existence as an organisation? The answer is – you can’t. Which comes a long way in explaining Murdoch’s desperate attempts to shore up the defenses and patch up the walls of his crumbling empire.
John Robb’s The Simplification of Complex Societies takes that argument to the complexity of the present global society, and unsurprisingly concludes that collapse is imminent, albeit with the caveat that there is a way out, as pointed by China’s successful transition from Maoist barbarity by allowing totally unregulated innovation at its societal periphery (arguably the largest and most successful peasant revolution in human history). While predicting the imminent collapse of capitalism is a hobby century-and-a-half old, there is a lot to be said about the growing layers of complexity involved in international governance, financial and otherwise. Plenty to ponder.
I am still in mild shock after watching that game… Barcelona produced probably the best football ever in the first half, a truly enchanting performance. I am reminded of Marcelo Bielsa‘s famous words:
“Totally mechanised teams are useless because they get lost when they lose their script. But I don’t like either ones that live only on the inspiration of their soloists, because when God doesn’t turn them on, they are left totally at the mercy of their opponents.”
The thing with Barcelona is that they have struck the golden balance between the background hum of the tiki-taka system (4-3-3) and the dizzying virtuosity of the soloist (Messi).
Some more tiki-taka:
Happy and Joyful Easter to everyone out there, and to those not celebrating – happy holidays!
And here is a sign of the times from Kaltoons.com:
Interesting perspectives on China, Pettis is a professor and Beijing University, and Roach is the Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia.
China is misread by bulls and bears alike, by Michael Pettis, FT.com
“Will China collapse? No. It may have a painful financial contraction, but this will not necessarily lead to a collapse in growth. Instead it will grind away at its overinvestment and excess capacity, which, with a reversal of the favourable demographics enjoyed since the mid-1970s, will slow growth sharply, but this will coincide with three more favourable circumstances.
Blaming China will not solve America’s problem, by Stephen Roach, FT.com
“The US would be far better served if it faced up to why it is confronted with a massive multilateral trade deficit. America’s core economic problem is saving, not China. In 2009, the broadest measure of domestic US saving – the net national saving rate – fell to a record low of -2.5 per cent of national income. That means America must import surplus saving from abroad to fund its future growth – and run current account and trade deficits to attract the foreign capital. Thus, for a savings-short economy, there is no escaping large multilateral trade imbalances.”
Gerald Celente, the famous trend forecaster, on urban survivalism and tactical mindset for dealing with a crisis.
John Battelle’s Signal Weds: My Location Is A Box of Cereal on location based services.
““Where I am” is a powerful signal, in particular if where you are is a local business that might answer that signal with an offer that engenders loyalty, purchase, or both.
But I’m starting to think that we need to expand the concept of location to more than physical spaces. Why can’t I check-in to a website? An article? A state of mind? An emotion? Or…an object?”
The arrest of the Michigan militia is, I am afraid, just a portent of much worse things to come (of which Joseph Stack was another). As John Robb consistently argues, global guerrillas are on the rise, the legitimacy of the state is severely overstretched in most places (which Tom Barnett would call The Gap), and the economic crises yet to fully unfold doesn’t make things any easier for the status quo. It seems there is a lot more yet to come.
Kinsella on Intellectual Property:
Boldrin and Levine’s book through Scribd: