And this is the other thing about the size of the cognitive surplus we’re talking about. It’s so large that even a small change could have huge ramifications. Let’s say that everything stays 99 percent the same, that people watch 99 percent as much television as they used to, but 1 percent of that is carved out for producing and for sharing. The Internet-connected population watches roughly a trillion hours of TV a year. That’s about five times the size of the annual U.S. consumption. One per cent of that is 98 Wikipedia projects per year worth of participation.
I think that’s going to be a big deal. Don’t you?
In this paper, we introduce the No-Order File System (NoFS), a simple, lightweight file system that employs a novel technique called backpointer based consistency to provide crash consistency without ordering writes as they go to disk. A backpointer is added to each object in the file system, and the forward and backward pointers allows us to determine consistency by cross-checking the pointers. This simple inclusion surprisingly allows us to guarantee consistency in a wide range of crash scenarios.
We utilize a formal model to prove that NoFS provides data consistency in the event of system crashes; we show through experiments that NoFS is robust to such crashes, and delivers excellent performance across a range of workloads. Backpointer based consistency thus allows NoFS to provide crash consistency without resorting to the heavyweight machinery of traditional approaches.
A better way for a person to deal with the overwhelming complexity of the social world is to hedge their bets. By investing so much of his worth in a taxi medallion, Chow put all his eggs in one basket. So, you might say, he made himself particularly susceptible to ruin. What individuals should do instead, perhaps, is pursue a diverse range of offsetting strategies that eliminate or drastically reduce the risk of catastrophe, even under conditions of severe uncertainty.
The problem is that much of economic and social life in affluent countries is structured to require individuals to commit most of their resources towards one strategy for pursuing a flourishing life. Taking out a student loan or mortgage, or buying a taxi medallion, are all strategies that require a large, if not total, commitment of a person’s financial resources. Here, real hedging would require us to start from a place of considerable wealth, and so it isn’t a viable strategy for many. Most of us remain consigned to placing big bets in a casino where it’s effectively impossible to know the underlying odds. The precarity of this situation means that compassion, not blame, is the appropriate attitude to have towards those who end up on the losing end of these bets.