The lull

Given how quiet I’ve been around these parts of late, I thought I might post a quick “what’s been happening” post.

  • Fuzu have finished recording and mixing our second EP – tentatively titled “The Point”. We’ll be mastering later this month, and hopefully completing the artwork shortly after. I’ll hopefully have a follow-up to my budget post soon reflecting the actual budget.
  • I’ve been working solidly on two big projects (one for Inspire Foundation, another for UNSW. This has taken up a big chunk of my time (as one might expect) – but I hope to be a little less frantic come February.
  • Thanks mostly to Timo Rissanen, further work has been done on refining the pattern’s for Arketype’s first range, which will be launched for Winter 2010 now, instead of Summer 09/10 (I’ve been a bit too busy with the ‘day job’ and have missed some deadlines). We Buy Your Kids are working on the graphic designs for the range – I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with given the logo treatment Sonny and Biddy, the duo behind WBYK, came up with (more on that front soon).
  • Holidays – I’ve taken 3 weeks off work to visit family in Queensland – which was a wonderful break (that’s not quite over yet…).

Recent reading

I’ve also been doing a lot of reading of more “popular science” accounts of network theory, prompted in part by an ABC doco on the topic, and also economics and the history of money. This was in part prompted when a friend of mine sent me this video on money.

After reading Peter Bernstein’s A Primer on Money, Banking, and Gold it seems that many of the claims in the video are reasonably accurate.

I also recently finished Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody which looks at some of the societal changes being spurred on by networks. Especially interesting to me is the notion of “reduced transaction cost” for organising collective action.

George Soros’ The New Paradigm for Financial Markets was also an interesting read, albeit a bit repetitive. What’s most interesting is that an über-capitalist such as Soros would have such disdain for the models and assumptions underpinning the industry that he profited so well from.

Critical Mass by Philip Ball is a great overview of what he describes as an emerging “physics of society”. The book covers network and game theory, and emphasises the extent to which power laws and “phase transitions” apply to social phenomena. It also weaves into its narrative the ideas of many economic and social thinkers in history – which was fascinating to me as someone who’s not overly familiar with many of their contributions (at least not directly/explicitly).

Continuing the theme I’m currently reading Duncan Watts’ Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age. It delves much deeper into “small world” networks (popularised by the “Kevin Bacon” game) which are covered more lightly in Critical Mass.