Entries Tagged "Liars and Outliers"

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Giveaway: Liars and Outliers Galleys

My box of galley copies arrived in the mail yesterday. They’re filled with uncorrected typos, but otherwise look great. Wiley printed about 500 of them, and they’re mostly going to journalists and book reviewers, with some going to different wholesale and retail outlets. I have 20 copies to give away to readers of my blog and Crypto-Gram.

Earlier this month, I asked readers to suggest methods of distribution. There were a lot of good suggestions, but one stood out:

The best way to achieve that may be by letting people hand it personally to an ‘opinion leader.’ Their argument for which ‘opinion leader’ they think is most important *and* needs to read this the most (could be someone who talks out of his ass on the subject) gives you a good selection criterium, as well as giving some people and excuse to visit an ‘opinion leader.’

So that’s the plan. If you want a book, you have to promise to give a book to someone else. This someone should be a person who doesn’t otherwise know about me, and wouldn’t otherwise know about my book. This should be someone who would enjoy my book, and who would be likely to spread the word to others. Maybe it’s the CEO of the company you work for. Maybe it’s someone in politics. Maybe it’s just someone who influences the thinking of a lot of people. It shouldn’t be someone who would just dismiss my book out of hand, or not bother reading it because he already knows what he thinks. It should be someone who will read the book, think about it, and tell others about it.

Sometime between now and Christmas Day, send an e-mail whose subject matches the subject line of this post to schneier@schneier.com. Tell me who you’re going to give the book to and why. I’ll randomly choose ten people from those e-mails and ask them for their physical addresses. (This way, only winners have to mail me their addresses.) I’ll send each of the winners two copies of the galley: one for the winner, and the other for the winner’s thought leader. If Wiley sends me more galleys to give away, I will simply choose more winners.

Of course, I have no way of verifying that the winners actually comply. Someone could keep one copy of the galley and auction the other on eBay. I can’t stop that, but I will be cross if it happens. And I will number the galleys, so if I do ever see the book, I will know who did it.

Thank you to reader Jur, who suggested this method of distributing galley copies of my readers in response to my request. Jur, email me with your address and I will send you a copy of the galley.

Posted on December 22, 2011 at 6:09 AMView Comments

Liars and Outliers Galleys

My publisher is printing galley copies of Liars and Outliers. If anyone out there has a legitimate reason to get one, like writing book reviews for a newspaper, magazine, popular blog, etc., send me an e-mail and I’ll forward your request to Wiley’s PR department. I think they’ll be ready in a week or so, although it might be after the new year.

Additionally, I’m going to get 10 to 20 copies that I’d like to give away to readers of this blog. I’m not sure how to do it, though. Offering copies to “the first N people who leave a comment” would discriminate based on time zone. Giving copies away randomly to commenters seems, well, too easy. The person in charge of PR at Wiley wants me to give copies away randomly to people who “like” me on Facebook or tweet about me to their friends, or do some other sort of fake distributed marketing thing, but I’m not going to do that.

So to start, I’ve decided to give away a free galley copy of Liars and Outliers to the person who can come up with the best way to give away free galley copies of Liars and Outliers. Leave your suggestions in comments.

Posted on December 14, 2011 at 11:00 PMView Comments

Status Report: Liars and Outliers

After a long and hard year, Liars and Outliers is done. I submitted the manuscript to the publisher on Nov 1, got edits back from both an outside editor and a copyeditor about a week later, spent another week integrating the comments and edits, and submitted the final manuscript to the publisher just before Thanksgiving. Now it’s being laid out, and I’ll have one more chance to read it and correct typos next week.

It really feels great to be done. This is the hardest book I’ve written, and the most ambitious. Now I have to see how it’s received. I know I should be thinking about creating a talk based on the book, but I want some time away from the ideas. I’ll get back to that task in January.

Meanwhile, the publisher and I have been working on the cover. We settled on the art and layout months ago, but there’s the back cover copy, the inside flaps copy, the author’s bio, and the blurbs. I’m really happy with the blurbs I’ve received, and we’re deciding what goes on the front cover, what goes on the back cover, and what goes inside on the first couple of pages of the book. Much of this text will also be used at various online bookstores as well, and at my own webpage for the book. I’ll post the whole cover when it’s final.

After that, the publisher will create the various e-book formats. I’m not sure how the figures and tables will translate, but I’ll figure it out. Publication is still scheduled for mid-February, in time for the RSA Conference in San Francisco at the end of the month. I’ll be doing a short interview about my book in something called the “Author’s Studio” on Wednesday, and will have a book signing at the conference bookstore sometime that week. If there is any exhibitor wanting to use my book as a conference giveaway and have me sign them, e-mail me and we’ll work something out.

Posted on December 1, 2011 at 6:25 AMView Comments

Status Report: Liars and Outliers

Last weekend, I completely reframed the book. I realized that the book isn’t about security. It’s about trust. I’m writing about how society induces people to behave in the group interest instead of some competing personal interest. It’s obvious that society needs to do this; otherwise, it can never solve collective action problems. And as a social species, we have developed both moral systems and reputational systems that encourage people behave in the group interest. I called these systems “societal security,” along with more recent developments: institutional (read “legal”) systems and technological systems.

That phrasing strained the definition of “security.” Everything, from the Bible to your friends treating you better if you were nice to them, was a security system. In my reframing, those are all trust pressures. It’s a language that’s more intuitive. We already know about moral pressure, peer pressure, and legal pressure. Reputational pressure, institutional pressure, and security pressure is much less of a stretch. And it puts security back in a more sensible place. Security is a mechanism; trust is the goal.

This reframing lets me more easily talk directly about the central issues of the book: how these various pressures scale to larger societies, and how security technologies are necessary for them to scale. Trust changes focus as society scales, too. In smaller societies (a family, for example), trust is more about intention and less about actions. In larger societies, trust is all about actions. It’s more like compliance. And as things scale even further, trust becomes less about people and more about systems. I don’t need to trust any particular banker, as long as I trust the banking system. And as we scale up, security becomes more important.

Possibly the book’s thesis statement: “Security is a set of constructed systems that extend the naturally occurring systems that humans have always used to induce trust and enable society. This extension became necessary when society began to operate at a scale and complexity where the naturally occurring mechanisms started to break down, and is more necessary as society continues to grow in scale.”

So the phrase “societal security” is completely gone from the book. (Like the phrase “dishonest minority,” it only exists in old blog posts.) There’s more talk about the role of trust in society. There’s more talk about how security, real security this time, enables trust. It felt like a major change when I embarked on it, but the fact that I did it in three days says how this framing was always there under the surface. And the fact that the book reads a lot more cleanly now says this framing is the right one.

The title remains the same: Liars and Outliers. The cover remains the same. The table of contents is the same, although some chapters have different names. The subtitle has to change, though. Candidates include:

  1. How Trust Holds Society Together — my publisher probably won’t allow me to write a book without the word “security” somewhere in the title.
  2. Security, Trust, and Society — not punchy enough.
  3. How Security Enables the Trust that Holds Society Together — probably too long.
  4. How Trust and Security Hold Society Together — maybe.

Any other ideas?

The manuscript is still due to the publisher at the end of the month, and publication is still set for mid-February. I am enjoying writing it, but I am also looking forward to it being done.

Posted on October 5, 2011 at 7:38 PMView Comments

A Status Report: "Liars and Outliers"

It’s been a long hard year, but the book is almost finished. It’s certainly the most difficult book I’ve ever written, mostly because I’ve had to learn academic fields I don’t have a lot of experience in. But the book is finally coming together as a coherent whole, and I am optimistic that the results will prove to be worth the effort.

Table of contents:

1. Introduction
2. A Natural History of Security
3. The Evolution of Cooperation
4. A Social History of Security
5. Societal Dilemmas
6. Societal Security
7. Moral Societal Security
8. Reputational Societal Security
9. Institutional Societal Security
10. Technological Societal Security
11. Competing Interest
12. Organizations and Societal Dilemmas
13. Corporations and Societal Dilemmas
14. Institutions and Societal Dilemmas
15. Understanding Societal Security Failures
16. Societal Security and the Information Age
17. The Future of Societal Security

The old title, “The Dishonest Minority,” has been completely expunged from the book. The phrase appears nowhere in the text — it’s only existence is in old blog posts about the book.

Lastly, I want to apologize to all my readers for the scant pickings on my blog and in Crypto-Gram. So much of my attention is going into writing my book that I don’t have time for much else. I promise to write more essays and blog posts once the book is finished. That’s likely to be the December issue of Crypto-Gram. Thank you for your patience.

The manuscript is due in 45 days; publication is still scheduled for mid February. Right now it’s 88,000 words long, with another 30,000 words in notes and references.

Posted on September 15, 2011 at 6:52 AMView Comments

Liars and Outliers Cover

My new book, Liars and Outliers, has a cover.

proposed cover

Publication is still scheduled for the end of February — in time for the RSA Conference — assuming I finish the manuscript in time.

EDITED TO ADD (8/12): The cover was inspired by a design by Luke Fretwell. He sent me an unsolicited cover design, which I liked and sent to my publisher. They liked the general idea, but refined it into the cover you see. Luke has a blog post on the exchange, which includes a picture of his cover.

Posted on August 12, 2011 at 2:09 PMView Comments

My Next Book: Title and Cover

As my regular readers already know, I’m in the process of writing my next book. It’s a book about why security exists: specifically, how a group of people protects itself from individuals within that group. My working title has been The Dishonest Minority. The idea behind the title is that “honesty” is defined by social convention, then those that don’t follow the social conventions are by definition dishonest.

In my second blog post about the book, there was a lot of commentary about the word “dishonest.” The problem is that there are two kinds of dishonest people: those who are selfish, and those who are differently moral than the rest of society. So the word has to apply to both burglars and abolitionists. It has to apply to a criminal within society as a whole, and a police informant within a society of criminals. It has to apply to people who don’t pay their taxes because they’re selfish, and those who don’t pay because they are morally opposed to what the government is doing with the money. It has to apply to both Bernie Madoff and Gandhi.

It’s true that it’s a bit pejorative to use the word “dishonest” to describe both Madoff and Gandhi. But I can’t think of a better word. Here are some options:

  • The Dishonest Minority
  • The Dangerous Minority
  • The Deviant Minority
  • The Disobedient Minority

I don’t really like any of them.

Another option is to explicitly call out the two different types:

  • Murderers, Messiahs, and Other Dangerous People
  • Sinners, Saints, and Other Dangerous People
  • Sociopaths, Saints, and Other Dangerous People
  • Criminals, Revolutionaries, and Other Dangerous People
  • Criminals, Activists, and Other Dangerous People
  • Madoff, Gandhi, and Other Dangerous People
  • Jesus, the Two Thieves, and other Dangerous People
  • Liars, Outliers, and Other Threats
  • Crime, Revolution, and Other Dangers

Alliteration is always a plus. Biblical references I’m less sure about.

I like this general concept for title, because the potential reader will be intrigued how the two are related. They’re both “transgressors,” which might be a good word for the title.

  • Criminals, Revolutionaries, and Other Transgressors
  • Sociopaths, Saints, and Other Transgressors
  • Crime, Activism, and Other Transgressions
  • Murder, Revolution, and Other Transgressions

Or the word alone:

  • Transgressors
  • Transgressions

The subtitle is still one of these:

  • Security and its Role in Modern Society
  • Security and its Role in Protecting Modern Society
  • Security and its Role in Defending Modern Society
  • Security and its Role in Defending Society
  • Security and its Role in Protecting Society

Other options:

  • Protecting Society through Security
  • Securing Society from its Deviants

In general, I like an exciting title paired with a descriptive subtitle. But I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.

Remember, the goal of a title is to make people — people who don’t already know me and my writing — want to read my book.

Question 1: What do you think of the title options? What other words would work, either in the “adjective noun” title style, or the “A, B, and other Cs” style? What other completely different titles or subtitles would work?

Next: cover options. I’m not sure how much book cover matters anymore, now that my books will primarily be sold from online stores and in ebook formats. But I’d like a cover that doesn’t suck. And it’s hard. “Security” is a concept that’s full of trite metaphors. And it’s hard to come up with a picture that really captures what I am writing about. (Maybe this one.) Below are five options that my publisher has sent me.

1. proposed cover 2. proposed cover 3. proposed cover 4. proposed cover 5. proposed cover

Note that the stock photos sometimes have watermarks, or are shown in artificially reduced resolution. If we actually use one of the photos, those artifacts will disappear.

Question 2: What do you think of the cover options: the stock photos, the typefaces, the colors, the overall layout of the cover? Will any of those work, or do we have to go back to the drawing board?

I appreciate your opinions. Please first give them to me cold, without reading the other comments. Then feel free to comment on what other people think.

Posted on June 21, 2011 at 11:20 AMView Comments

Status Report: The Dishonest Minority

Three months ago, I announced that I was writing a book on why security exists in human societies. This is basically the book’s thesis statement:

All complex systems contain parasites. In any system of cooperative behavior, an uncooperative strategy will be effective — and the system will tolerate the uncooperatives — as long as they’re not too numerous or too effective. Thus, as a species evolves cooperative behavior, it also evolves a dishonest minority that takes advantage of the honest majority. If individuals within a species have the ability to switch strategies, the dishonest minority will never be reduced to zero. As a result, the species simultaneously evolves two things: 1) security systems to protect itself from this dishonest minority, and 2) deception systems to successfully be parasitic.

Humans evolved along this path. The basic mechanism can be modeled simply. It is in our collective group interest for everyone to cooperate. It is in any given individual’s short-term self interest not to cooperate: to defect, in game theory terms. But if everyone defects, society falls apart. To ensure widespread cooperation and minimal defection, we collectively implement a variety of societal security systems.

Two of these systems evolved in prehistory: morals and reputation. Two others evolved as our social groups became larger and more formal: laws and technical security systems. What these security systems do, effectively, is give individuals incentives to act in the group interest. But none of these systems, with the possible exception of some fanciful science-fiction technologies, can ever bring that dishonest minority down to zero.

In complex modern societies, many complications intrude on this simple model of societal security. Decisions to cooperate or defect are often made by groups of people — governments, corporations, and so on — and there are important differences because of dynamics inside and outside the groups. Much of our societal security is delegated — to the police, for example — and becomes institutionalized; the dynamics of this are also important. Power struggles over who controls the mechanisms of societal security are inherent: “group interest” rapidly devolves to “the king’s interest.” Societal security can become a tool for those in power to remain in power, with the definition of “honest majority” being simply the people who follow the rules.

The term “dishonest minority” is not a moral judgment; it simply describes the minority who does not follow societal norm. Since many societal norms are in fact immoral, sometimes the dishonest minority serves as a catalyst for social change. Societies without a reservoir of people who don’t follow the rules lack an important mechanism for societal evolution. Vibrant societies need a dishonest minority; if society makes its dishonest minority too small, it stifles dissent as well as common crime.

At this point, I have most of a first draft: 75,000 words. The tentative title is still “The Dishonest Minority: Security and its Role in Modern Society.” I have signed a contract with Wiley to deliver a final manuscript in November for February 2012 publication. Writing a book is a process of exploration for me, and the final book will certainly be a little different — and maybe even very different — from what I wrote above. But that’s where I am today.

And it’s why my other writings continue to be sparse.

Posted on May 9, 2011 at 7:02 AMView Comments

Social Solidarity as an Effect of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

It’s standard sociological theory that a group experiences social solidarity in response to external conflict. This paper studies the phenomenon in the United States after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Conflict produces group solidarity in four phases: (1) an initial few days of shock and idiosyncratic individual reactions to attack; (2) one to two weeks of establishing standardized displays of solidarity symbols; (3) two to three months of high solidarity plateau; and (4) gradual decline toward normalcy in six to nine months. Solidarity is not uniform but is clustered in local groups supporting each other’s symbolic behavior. Actual solidarity behaviors are performed by minorities of the population, while vague verbal claims to performance are made by large majorities. Commemorative rituals intermittently revive high emotional peaks; participants become ranked according to their closeness to a center of ritual attention. Events, places, and organizations claim importance by associating themselves with national solidarity rituals and especially by surrounding themselves with pragmatically ineffective security ritual. Conflicts arise over access to centers of ritual attention; clashes occur between pragmatists deritualizing security and security zealots attempting to keep up the level of emotional intensity. The solidarity plateau is also a hysteria zone; as a center of emotional attention, it attracts ancillary attacks unrelated to the original terrorists as well as alarms and hoaxes. In particular historical circumstances, it becomes a period of atrocities.

This certainly makes sense as a group survival mechanism: self-interest giving way to group interest in face of a threat to the group. It’s the kind of thing I am talking about in my new book.

Paper also available here.

Posted on April 27, 2011 at 9:10 AMView Comments

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.