If it's at the intersection of media, entertainment, popular culture, or public policy, I'm probably interested.
When I was about 21 I wrote my undergraduate thesis with the title of "Complexity And Economic Theory." I thought -- and still think -- that the economy is best understood as a complex adaptive system, that an interdisciplinary approach that brings in concepts common to game theorists, or ecologists, or quantum physicists, can bring analytic power to bear on the classic economic questions concerning the distribution of scarce resources.
My thesis, such as it was, was that complex systems dynamics represented a paradigm shift in economic thinking, and that most of what they'd taught us up to that point was interesting and factual, but ultimately missed the point.
OK, so in retrospect I might have been a little presumptuous. But those ideas that kept me up at night then have been top of mind ever since.
I believe that the most interesting kernels of knowledge lie in the region poised delicately on the knife's edge between order and chaos, where systems are adaptive, where a large number of players acting under the most basic rules can produce systems of breathtaking complexity and beauty.
I believe that the most insightful economic and financial analysis tends to come from the study of emergent properties, rather than by endless reduction to absurdity, to the point where a few variables like the prevailing interest rate or the money supply are taught as the best (or only) way describe the spontaneous actions of millions of interconnected players, each trying to balance self interest and altruism, and none with the ability to predict the future.
It's become clear that from apparent chaos can come self-organization -- and life -- spawning full-on ecosystems with a panopoly of diversity, bringing us market based economies, the Bretton Woods agreement, the tradition of common law, the state of Ohio, Britney Spears, Wal-Mart, all of it.
Not by the command of authority, but by spontaneous self-organization.
But I digress.
Since then I've gone on to produce a few dozen albums, write a few magazine cover stories, and learn how to fly an airplane. And for about the last decade I've been managing the media profile for a diverse group of clients ranging from Oscar and Grammy winning celebrities to Fortune 500 companies and global consumer brands. I've booked clients on the Today Show and Letterman, in Rolling Stone and the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. I've spoken on panels, led seminars at trade shows, been recognized in PRWeek a few times, and spent more time than most people should in airport lounges, on red carpets, in hotel reception rooms and conference rooms.
So I guess that's my bio.
It's a cliche, but it's true: everything is connected. And if my early heroes in economics and complex adaptive system dynamics -- people like Kenneth Arrow, Brian Arthur, Mario Henrique Simonsen -- had just started to intuit this paradigm shift, then the intervening years have proven instructive indeed.
Global communications are instantaneous, and so are global markets. The law of unintended consequences looms larger now than it ever has before, and causes one to naturally wonder:
Can we find a way to fit more than six billion people on this earth without straining it to the breaking point?
That, I believe, is the question of our time.
- Nick Baily, Brooklyn NYC, March 2008