Mediocratopia

Slouching towards a mediocracy utopia.

Mediocratopia:1

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the seriesMediocratopia

我被平庸着迷的愿望,理解为优化性能和暂扣储备。平庸懒散走向生存。平庸是累加的思想务实性。平庸是脂肪在系统中。平庸是俏皮的,狡猾的即兴创作。

如果过早的优化是所有罪恶的根源,是平庸邪恶。

Mediocrity is the courage to be ordinary.

The increasingly mediocrity-hostile zeitgeist — witness this schwag t-shirt,HT安迪·拉斯金— has only made me double down.

平庸一直是主题演讲主题为我的十年,中央来bookend病毒击中相隔近十年:该热尔韦原理(2009)和The Premium Mediocre Life of Maya Millennial(2017).

在里面former, I argued that Losers are self-aware minimum-effort slackers, while Sociopaths get to the top by avoiding the lure of excellence and practicing strategic incompetence on the way up. “Excellence” is for the Clueless middle.

在里面latter, I argued that much apparent excellence is just signaling in an economy wired to reward mediocrity with a veneer of excellence, and that this is agoodthing (many perversely missed that latter point).

Mediocrity makes an appearance in many personal favorites:The Return of the Barbarian,The Gollum Effect,and砂粒积分(2011年),脂肪思维和品种的经济(2016), and the posts collected inCrash Early, Crash Often(written 2014-2017)In 2018, I began exploring it explicitly, inSurvival of the Mediocre Mediocre,and为什么我们没精打采。

可悲的是,休·麦克劳德,其公司层次inspired该热尔韦原理,has gone dark-side with anallergic-to-mediocrity2018卡通。

Et tu Hugh?

It’s lonely where I stand, but I will continue to意见领袖humanity as we slouch towards a mediocracy utopia: a mediocratopia. A long-lived world built out of good-enough parts, including, and especially, human ones.

Can we get there? Yes we can, if we stop hustling so damn much.

Mediocratopia:2

This entry is part 2 of 9 in the seriesMediocratopia

普通英雄都是优秀的人。平庸是抗英勇风气,但不能沿任一抗英雄或邪恶的通常尺寸。该反英雄和一种类似于英雄的小人Embody座椅卓越。他们只是把不同的目标和价值党。

The anti-excellence hero is thecomichero.

InAsterix and the Chieftain’s Shieldwe encounter Caius Pusilanimus, perhaps the most elemental example of a mediocre comic hero (though he’s a side character in the story).

Where the hero reluctantly accepts his own exceptional nature, the mediocre comic hero eagerly embraces his own unexceptional nature and schemes to gain rewards out of proportion with its potentialities.

主人公所在的集中体现fight,the comic hero embodiesflight.Where the hero puts in 110%, the comic hero gets by with 60%. Where the hero aims to win honorably, the comic hero aims to survive by any means possible, and live to flee another day. Where the hero’s moments of weakness are marked by self-doubt and fear (usually on behalf of others, rather than for themselves), the comic hero’s moments of weakness are marked by a failure to be mediocre. An embarrassingly heroic act, for example. Or idealistic fervor descending as a momentary madness.

My new favorite example of a mediocre comic hero is the wizard Rincewind in Terry Pratchett’sDiscworldnovels.

For the mediocre comic hero, impact is a function, not of exceptionaltraits, but of surviving long enough to get lucky in exceptionalenvironments。这本漫画从webcomicname.comgets at this numbers-game aspect.

所有卓越是例外,虽然不是所有的例外的是优秀的。例外性可以通过被高度存在来实现和位于在复杂的环境中,或通过beingexceptional in any environment (though sometimes, exceptional character can be canceled out by an exceptional environment).

Mediocratopia: 3

This entry is part 3 of 9 in the seriesMediocratopia

Mediocrity is, rather appropriately, under-theorized. An upcoming book by David S. Milo,走od Enough(htKeerthik), seems set to make it a little less undertheorized. The subtitle is inspiringly underwhelming:平庸的自然和社会的宽容。Reader Killian Butler sent me this poston being mediocre。Our movement is really slouching along now.

There is a paradox at the heart of mediocrity studies: excellence is not actually exceptional. If you see an excellent behavior or thing, it’s likely to be a middling instance at itslevel.The perception of exceptionalism is an illusion caused by inappropriate comparisons: you think it is a 99 percentile example of Level 3 performance, but it’s really a median example of Level 4 performance.

改变的性能水平是自中断。你打,说,那一刻,当前学习S曲线上的60%的性能一点,你开始想办法一级。这是丹尼尔F.钱布利斯经典论文的基本观点,The Mundanity of ExcellencePeople who rise through the levels of a competitive sport do so by making discrete qualitative changes to level upbeforethey hit diminishing returns from the current level. This process of leveling up, has less to do with striving for excellence in the sense of exceptional performance, and more to do with repeatedly growing past limits. The visibly excellent are never at a local optimum.

InAge of Speed,滑雪者文斯Poscente声称,他通过在一个他在竞争之上的水平练习他的技能主要是赢了。所以实际的比赛过程中,他可以用小于100%的努力争取。

制作赢得了习惯就是确保你总是在那里你有懈怠的水平运作;你在哪里,其实平庸。如果你正在迈向卓越推,它的时间来寻找一个新的水平。

Mediocratopia: 4

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the seriesMediocratopia

You’ve probably heard of optimization, that nihilistic process of descending into valleys or ascending up hills till you get stuck, having an existential crisis, and then flailing randomly to climb out (or down) again.Mediocritizationis the opposite of that: never getting stuck in the first place. Here’s a picture.

Optimization versus mediocritization
Optimization versus mediocritization

左边的动画片是优化。下降是一个相对有序的过程(“梯度下降”带你在当地最陡峭的倾斜方向)。在获得出,再次部分必然是无序的。你必须注入随机性。右边的卡通是mediocritization:不要被卡住。

当人们谈论的“全局”优化,他们通常是指在长期内,你少枷似地让山谷的,因为你已经发现,因为你探索更多的山谷最深处获得更高的机会。这个过程的推移像“退火时间表”的名字。

全局或局部,关于优化的事情是,它likes被卡在山谷或小山的顶部的底部,只要它知道它是最深的山谷或最高的山。关于mediocritization的事情是,它不喜欢的任何一个条件。Mediocritizers喜欢住在斜坡上,而不是顶部或底部。原因是微妙:在一个斜坡上,有alwaysa way to tell directions apart. The environment is different in different directions. It isanisotropic。Mediocritization is an environmental anisotropy maintaining process (not a satisficing process as naive optimizers tend to assume).

Anisotropy is information in disguise. Optimizers get stuck at the bottoms of valleys or tops of hills because the world is locally flat. No direction is any different from any other. There are no meaningful decisions to make relative to the external world because it is the same in all directions, orisotropic。这就是为什么你需要注入随机性打出来(数学,梯度趋于零,这样可以不再担任定向判别)。

一般izing, in mediocritization, you always want to have a way available to continue the game that is better than random. This means you need some anisotropic pattern of information in the environment to act on.

Three examples of mediocritization:

  1. When Tiger Woods was king of the hill (a position he just regained after a long time), his closest competitors performed worse by about a stroke on average. Apparently, when Tiger is in good form, there’s no point trying too hard. Seethis paper by Jennifer Brown
  2. My buddy Jason Ho, who just had thisentertaining profile写他,是在表面上,优化techbro的漫画。但是再看看:他刻苦训练,放置secondin an amateur body-building competition, and thenmoved on to newer challenges rather than obsessing over getting to #1
  3. 当我在研究生院,偶尔轻度恐慌,在别人舀我对我的工作对研究的思路打,我想出了一个应对技巧我叫“+1”。对于任何问题,我总是需要一些时间来识别并写下下一个problem I would work on if somebody else scooped me on the current one. That way, I’d hit the ground running if I was scooped.

在3层的Carsean道德:优化你怎么玩赢有限的游戏,但mediocritization是你怎么玩,继续比赛。

Mediocratopia: 5

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the seriesMediocratopia

在世界上运行仪式上expectationsof optimal performances, but where it is rarely in your best interests to actuallydeliver最佳表演,练平庸必然涉及capability masking:the act of hiding the true extent of your capabilities.

Capability masking is the opposite of “fake it till you make it” behavior, and comes in two varieties, illustrated below, both of which are involved in the behavior commonly referred to assandbagging

能力屏蔽必须在一个微妙的方式完成的。You can’t just pick a suboptimal performance level that’s in your own best interests and then nail it precisely without breaking a sweat. Sandbagging is an artistic performance, not a throttle setting, and it’s worth learning to do well.

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Mediocratopia: 6

This entry is part 6 of 9 in the seriesMediocratopia

我平庸的理念真正从上周开始走到一起,两个微博的形式。首先,图归于艺术家Marc Dalessiofloated by my feed and Itweetedthis modified and annotated version:

第二,a passing tweetby me seemed helpful enough to people that I did a double-take myself to see if I’d accidentally said something deeper than I’d thought:

A very compact way to explain mediocrity philosophy is this: non-attachment to finite games (5 words). Unfortunately those who can’t process the Carse reference will almost certainly misunderstand it.

Non-attachment to finite games。There’s a lot packed into those 5 words if you have the context to unpack them. Itsounds类似“不要陷入局部最优解”,但实际上是一个关于域名的开放和不受约束的演变效用的概念说明(我做了一个简短解释器上optimization versus mediocritization2 episodes ago in this blogchain).

The reference is to finite and infinite gamesin the sense of James Carse。A finite game is when you play to win. An infinite game is when you play to continue the game. Non-attachment to a finite game means being free to reject both winning and losing. This generally happens when you are able to see and choose ways to keep the infinite game going that are orthogonal to the win/loss logic of a particular finite game. This posture can look like betrayal, cowardice, or choking to those who are attached to a particular finite game, which is why the connotations of mediocrity are invariably negative for finite gamers.

The idea of non-attachment here is critical, and is where subjectivity reshapes the meaning of “objective” cost or utility without an alternative notion of value necessarily ready at hand. Mediocrity is a leap of faith that there’s more to life than whatever is going on right now.Whatever the hill, odds are, it’s not the one you want to die on.

Taken together, the two provide a usable map and compass for a praxis of mediocrity. A map of the territory (emotional roller coaster of open-ended growth), with a depiction of a subjective path through it (modes of humor that work as coping mechanisms for each regime), and a compass to guide you through it (non-attachment to particular peaks or troughs, which are the wins and losses you must look past to continue the game).

Mediocratopia: 7

This entry is part 7 of 9 in the seriesMediocratopia

我有一个相当紧张的一周由于a family emergency, and one of the things that’s been most helpful is theone day at a timeandit’s a marathon, not a sprintgenre of aphorisms. At first sight, the thought seems tautological and empty. After all you can’t literally live more than one day at a time. Or can you? Yes you can. The trick is to think in terms of gaits rather than time periods.

Credit: Stephen Cunane

Stephen Cunnane madethis great videoexplaining various gaits in animals, and the gif above is a clip from that.

I want to talk about the gait appropriate for a life posture of mediocrity. This gait, I argue, is theamble.

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Mediocratopia: 8

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the seriesMediocratopia

I came up with a good negative definition: Mediocrity is not being acompletist任何事情。为整理整理的缘故是不是你的事。

人生苦短,你就完成了一切。你可能不会“完成”生活本身。我喜欢ensōto symbolize this ethos. You draw a circle with a single brush stroke, with no corrections or do-overs, and it doesn’t really matter if you complete the circle. You can make another实体ō如果你喜欢,或者只是去喝点啤酒。Very wabi-sabi. An effort that embraces its own irreversibility, mortality and temporality.

A Google image search for “enso” generates a nice museum of mediocre circles.

回过头来看,大部分事情我做一直ENSO样,但我是最近才变得强烈地意识到的事实。举例来说,我一直在尝试short, unedited, single-take podcastson my breaking smart email list. Initially I thought I was just taking the lazy way out, but now I think of them as oral ensōs . It is my most mediocre publishing experiment yet. I hope to have this ethos percolate more through all my efforts.

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Mediocratopia: 9

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the seriesMediocratopia

We often conflate quality with excellence, to the point that the termquality mediocrityseems like an oxymoron, andmediocre qualityseems like the same thing aspoor quality。But quality and excellence are not the same thing, and mediocrity and quality are not mutually exclusive. Excellence is synonymous with quality only under behavioral regimes governed by an optimizing sensibility, operating on a closed and bounded notion of what the kids these days seem to be calling fitness-to-purpose. What does it map to when you’re mediocratizing rather than optimizing? I have an answer:fatness.Or for the kids,fitness-to-purposelessness

Public domain fat cat caricature. From Trade Union Unity Magazine (September 1925)

肥胖是通过向丰反应平平创建的全身状况。在里面opener for this blogchain, I linked to a bunch of my older writing about fat thinking, but I didn’t construct a notion of quality out of that attribute. Let’s do that now.

The short version:Fatness is embodied abundance.如果你喜欢聪明线:Fatness is future-fitness.

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