Weekend Reading: Satellites, Antilibraries, and Libra

June 29, 2019 • #

🛰 How to Profit in Space: A Visual Guide

Fantastic visualizations from the WSJ team. Shows the history of satellite expansion divided by country, year, and orbits, both LEO and geosynchronous. A great use of maps for storytelling.

📚 The Antilibrary: Why Unread Books are the Most Important

This is a concept pulled from Taleb’s The Black Swan, which I recently enjoyed. As he notes, the antilibrary can function as a reminder of how much there is to know, and (as is a main point of The Black Swan, we tend to underestimate the value of what we don’t know).

The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have. How many of these books have you read?” and the others—a very small minority—who get the point is that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendages but a research tool. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means … allow you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.

Definitely rings familiar, for me, as someone with a large collection of books I’m anxious to read, but may never get to.

⚖️ Libra

The Facebook-designed and sponsored Libra is a more interesting idea than the much-discussed “FacebookCoin” entrance into cryptocurrency that’s been rumored. The gist is that it’s somewhere between an open blockchain and a closed system, with a consortium of funders in place to share control and add stability in the currency. I’m interested to see where this goes given Facebook’s massive reach to expose it to regular people. See also Ben Thompson’s sharp analysis of Libra from earlier this week.