Samuel Arbesman

Complexity Scientist and Writer, Silicon Flatirons

Samuel Arbesman is a Senior Adjunct Fellow of the Silicon Flatirons Center at the University of Colorado. His work has appeared in The New York Times and others. He is the author of The Half-Life of Facts (2012).

Written by Samuel Arbesman

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Master of many trades

Samuel Arbesman

Specialization is amazing. It allows us to make advances that would not be possible with only a more superficial knowledge of a field. And we are going to continue needing specialists more and more, as knowledge grows incredibly rapidly.

But I think this need for specialization shouldn’t be at the expense of generalists. Because not only is knowledge growing, it’s becoming more tightly interconnected. We have hybrid disciplines popping up, from biophysics to evolutionary psychology, and we also see connections between fields happening at a smaller level, such as mathematical models from physics having applications in urban planning.

So we are going to increasingly need the g...

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Future reading

Samuel Arbesman

When we talk about physical books, often we jump rather quickly to the emotional connection we feel to books: their look and feel, their heft in the hand. These are all worth discussing, and I am certainly not immune to the charms of the printed book.

But when I think about physical books as a technology, I prefer to think about their features. And right now, there is at least one feature that I can’t quite replicate in an ebook: nonlinear reading. When it comes to fiction, something meant to be read linearly, an ebook is great. I can carry huge numbers of books, or even just one really big book, much more efficiently. And I get essentially the same reading experience as I would ge...

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