In the long run, the media bias against incremental progress may be more damaging than any bias the media display toward the political left or right. The media are heavily biased toward extreme events, and they are slightly biased toward negative events — though in their defense, that bias may just be a reflection of the human brain’s propensity to focus more on negative information than positive, a trait extensively documented by neuroscience and psychology studies.
Prizes create a kind of artificial economic system that maintains most of the key advantages of the free market. They create incentives and competition, and they diversify the number of minds working on the problem. But the prizes eliminate wasteful spending, since they are rewarded only when genuine solutions have been achieved. And when combined with limits on patent monopolies, prizes can ensure that those innovations will flow more readily through the society at large.
A world without gatekeepers or planners is noisier and more chaotic.
Most new movements start this way: hundreds or thousands of individuals and groups, working in different fields and different locations, start thinking about change using a common language, without necessarily recognizing those shared values. You just start following your own vector, propelled along by people in your immediate vicinity. And then one day, you look up and realize that all those individual trajectories have turned into a wave.
So what does the Internet want? It wants to lower the cost for creating and sharing information. The notion sounds unimpeachable when you phrase it like that, until you realize all the strange places that kind of affordance ultimately leads to. The Internet wants to breed algorithms that can execute thousands of financial transactions per minute, and it wants to disseminate the #occupywallstreet meme across the planet. The Internet ‘wants’ both the Wall Street tycoons and the popular insurrection at its feet.
There are a number of ways that your memory can get in the way of a good writing session when you’re in the middle of a project, mostly because you’ve remembered too much. But when you’re just starting out on a project, when you’re in that early stage where you’re still trying to figure out what you want to write in the first place—at this stage, it’s the frailty of memory that causes problems. This is because most good ideas (whether they’re ideas for narrative structure, a particular twist in the argument, or a broader topic) come into our minds as hunches: small fragments of a larger idea, hints and intimations. Many of these ideas sit around for months or years before they coalesce into something useful, often by colliding with another hunch. (I wrote a chapter about this phenomenon in my last book, Where Good Ideas Come From
.) The problem with hunches is that it’s incredibly easy to forget them, precisely because they’re not fully-baked ideas.
on why everyone should keep a spark file