Saturday, June 7, 2008

Blogging the Black Swan

Consider several recent news stories: Cyclone Nagris, the Tibet uprisings, or the earthquake in central China. These crisis situations share certain characteristics that could be summarized like this: None had been predicted. Few reporters were on the scene to cover the events. They involved events that few newspapers had been reporting until the big story broke. Moreover, these situations are having a global impact.

To some extent, each of these events has comprised the material for Jotman.

The recent focus of my blog – crisis situations such as these -- happen to resemble what the American writer Nicholas Taleb calls "the Black Swan." In a recent book by that name, Taleb defines Black Swan events as unexpected events which occur outside widely accepted narratives. That is, popular expert models of the world may not have presupposed the occurrence of such upheavals. Yet from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the attacks of 9/11 the unexpected keeps happening. Taleb suggests that when the Black Swan happens in a globalized, highly networked world – a world of shared models and assumptions -- the impact of the unexpected event can be magnified. That is, increasingly, a local crisis will have global ramifications.

Might bloggers be especially well situated to cope with -- to help people navigate such occurences?
Nicholas Taleb, no fan of blogs (or newspapers), has a website. Graphic is taken from the cover to his recent book, The Black Swan.

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