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I learned a lot from all the comments and suggestions I’ve received about the title for my next book. (Comments are now closed on those posts). One substantive thought. A number of you liked The Spontaneous Symphony. It’s a great title but I won’t end up using it for the same reason that I try not to use spontaneous order to describe self-organizing systems. The word spontaneous has a number of meanings in everyday language. Here are the first two from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

1 : proceeding from natural feeling or native tendency without external constraint
2 : arising from a momentary impulse

The first one is good for our purposes. The second is not so good. It suggests something that happens suddenly out of the blue. In everyday language, the word comes up most often in that second meaning, as in, let’s go to the beach instead of spending the day working on the lawn as we’d planned. Let’s be spontaneous! The second association most people have with the word is spontaneous combustion. That really uses both meanings—a sudden fire that isn’t intended by anyone.

The other problem with any of the titles that use the word "symphony" is that symphonies are orderly in very particular ways. It’s a pretty good metaphor for the orderliness of the economy but it leaves out the role of improvisation. Jazz, as I think one commenter mentioned, is a better metaphor, and in an earlier draft, I compared the division of of labor that goes into making a pencil to jazz musicians improvising in different locations yet making music that is still harmonious. But The Secret Jazz Combo or Jazzonomics or Improvonomics or The Jazz of Our Economy don’t grab me. Plus the symphony metaphor doesn’t tie in with the plot of the book.

But your comments have inspired me to search for a better metaphor that I might put in the book and that would make an evocative and poetic title. I think I’ve got it. I’ll chew on it for a few days and see if it works. Thanks again for your efforts. I will keep you posted.


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