I was enamored with Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book Fooled By Randomness, so needless to say, I was one of those Amazon.com pre-order geeks when I heard about his new one, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.
And while I'm still plowing through the magnum opus, preliminary skims have resulted in yelps of joyful vindication throughout Surprise Central.
Yup, a lot of what Taleb says provides credence to the ramblings of this blog, but holy jumpin' jeez, the way he says it truly humbles this blog's author. So without further ado, here are a couple of pertinent excerpts.
On Surprise in general:
"It is easy to see that life is the cumulative effect of a handful of significant shocks. This extends to all businesses. Think about the “secret recipe” to making a killing in the restaurant business. If it were known and obvious, then someone next door would have already come up with the idea and it would have become generic.
"The next killing in the restaurant industry needs to be an idea that is not easily conceived of by the current population of restaurateurs. It has to be at some distance from expectations. The more unexpected the success of such a venture, the smaller the number of competitors, and the more successful the entrepreneur who implements the idea."
On the importance of generating it:
"Living on our planet, today, requires a lot more imagination than we are made to have. We lack imagination and repress it in others. Our world is dominated by the extreme, the unknown, and the very improbable (improbable according our current knowledge)—and all the while we spend our time engaged in small talk, focusing on the known, and the repeated.
"This implies the need to use the extreme event as a starting point and not treat it as an exception to be pushed under the rug."
Couldn't have said it better myself...although I wish I could come close. Can't wait to get through the rest of this.