Only 80 pages in and I strongly disagreed with 5 assumptions, methods, and conclusions. Not as interesting as assumed it would be I bought it. I wante...moreOnly 80 pages in and I strongly disagreed with 5 assumptions, methods, and conclusions. Not as interesting as assumed it would be I bought it. I wanted a book on how to think. Instead I got a random collection anecdotes on how to live which seemed severely flawed.(less)
Pro-tip: All the chapters are articles published for Gladwell by The New Yorker. Most are behind their paywall. However, his web site has an an archiv...morePro-tip: All the chapters are articles published for Gladwell by The New Yorker. Most are behind their paywall. However, his web site has an an archive where I found the ones mentioned below. The publication date is noted at the end of the chapters, which I would have preferred in the front so I could put discussions into context.
Every information technology administrator or analyst ought to study three pieces in this book:
"Blowup" uses the Challenger and Three Mile Island disasters to talk about modern technology and disasters. Small failures and accepting the risks for those blinds us to the risks of disasters which can be caused by cascading small failures in unforeseen scenarios. The large system I help run at work has dozens of machines with hundreds of interworking components. Most are designed to work with some kind of redundancy or failover who work most of the time, but occasionally they fail and most of those go unnoticed by anyone other than those of us running it. On rare occasions, though, they most spectacularly fail.
"Open Secrets" uses the Enron implosion to talk about puzzles and mysteries. With puzzles more details narrows the scope for us to find an answer. Enron was more of a mystery where all the details were available for anyone looking to understand them, but few people did. This obfuscation through transparency at its best.
"Connecting the Dots" uses the Yom Kippur War and 9/11 to talk about the difficulty in interpreting data to anticipate what someone else is going to do. Certainty is almost certainly pretty low, but decision makers want high certainty. So the result is a judgement call that could very much go the wrong way.
As a database administrator, we think in terms of maximum stability and how to predict failure so we can neutralize it. The cool and sexy are distant...moreAs a database administrator, we think in terms of maximum stability and how to predict failure so we can neutralize it. The cool and sexy are distant concerns. So I guess I lack much sympathy for the traders looking to maximize profits and neutralizing the risk desks.
If a model looks great, then you missed something important. Something that will bring it all crashing down.
Also, this book made me mull on this quote:
"All these voices on the outside were saying, 'You are not relevant,'" Mudd later recalled. "And you have an obligation to be relevant."
No! No! No! Anyone telling you this wants you to do something not in your best interests. It is a ploy to make you stop paying attention to the risks and screw yourself by giving them what they want. Not sure people deserve multi-million bonuses when they lack this knowledge.(less)
An interesting treatise on how we acquire technology. Not sure if it was the examples or the logic that was circular. Still, interesting ideas on whic...moreAn interesting treatise on how we acquire technology. Not sure if it was the examples or the logic that was circular. Still, interesting ideas on which I will mull for a while.(less)
This book is really the story of why and how IEX was created. Humans made bad decisions. So, to protect people from other people, we moved the operati...moreThis book is really the story of why and how IEX was created. Humans made bad decisions. So, to protect people from other people, we moved the operation of the stock market to being run by computers. The natural consequence was for people to game the system with computer code. Rather than stay vigilant against new exploitations, we just redefined fair. The team behind IEX created it to eliminate these problems and establish a fair place for trading to occur.
About halfway through the book, I watched a commercial where an investment company touted their guaranteed one second trades. To the average person, this probably sounds amazing. The thing is that companies like this operate in milliseconds (1/1,000) and nanoseconds (1/1,000,000). Plus, they operate Dark Pools where the trade is obfuscated from independent review. Your trade could get executed where it benefits them and not you.
The overarching theme is that complexity and obfuscation created an environment where bad things can happen. As a technologist in education, I fight against this every day. We desire simplicity. Yet every change and especially those we execute without a good understanding of the business case creates complexity which will result in a failure. When no one fully understands how all the components work together, it exists to fail. Funnily enough, my team, the database administrators (really application administrators) sit at the intersection of the analysts, vendors, operating system admins, storage admins, network admins, and others. So this is familiar territory.
Zoran Perkov and Sergey Aleynikov are unsung heroes I am sure about whom I will spend more time reading. (less)