Archive for June 11th, 2014

June 11, 2014

Lindy Effect

Antifragile by Matt Blease

The Lindy Effect is a theory of the permanence of non-perishable things. Unlike biological organisms, the life expectancy of an idea or technology increases as it ages. The origin of the concept can be traced to biographer Albert Goldman and a 1964 article he wrote for ‘The New Republic’ titled ‘Lindy’s Law.’ In it he stated that ‘the future career expectations of a television comedian is proportional to the total amount of his past exposure on the medium.’ The term refers to a NY deli known as a hangout for comedians; they would ‘foregather every night at Lindy’s, where… they conduct post-mortems on recent show biz ‘action.’

Mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot formally coined the term ‘Lindy Effect’ in his 1984 book ‘The Fractal Geometry of Nature.’ Mandelbrot expressed mathematically that for certain things bounded by the life of the producer, like human promise, future life expectancy is proportional to the past: ‘However long a person’s past collected works, it will on the average continue for an equal additional amount. When it eventually stops, it breaks off at precisely half of its promise.’

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