Weekend Reads

How many of us wish we devoted more time to a task? To master a skill? How many hear of the 10,000 hour rule and wish (or push) our kids to practice, practice, practice? What if a better approach is to widely sample many things until the skills, abilities and interests start to align?

David Epstein explored those ideas (and discussed “kind” and “wicked” learning environments) in this new book, Range, Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.

A review of David Epstein’s new book, Range, at The Verge.

A deeper dive on the subject, an an extensive discussion with Russ Roberts on Econ-Talk can be found here

While my liberal arts (history) and legal background (litigation) predisposed to like those who espouse a generalist approach to knowledge and skills accumulation, I was particularly impressed by the discussion of “kind” v “wicked” learning environments.

Wicked domains, or wicked learning environments, are situations in which feedback in the form of outcomes of actions or observations is poor, misleading, or even missing.

In contrast, in kind learning environments, feedback links outcomes directly to the appropriate actions or judgments and is both accurate and plentiful.

A kind learning environment would be things like chess, or music (maybe mathematics). One practicing or leaning in a kind learning environment will get quick and accurate feedback on how well (or poorly) they are doing.

The wicked learning environment will give inaccurate feedback. It can trick the practitioner. The example given is of a doctor that was very adept at diagnosing typhoid by only examine the tongues of individuals. He would do an examination and predict that this one or that one would contract typhoid in the next few weeks. When this proved to occur, he was lauded for his observational and diagnostic skills. The problem? he was a carrier of typhoid. When he was doing the examination he was transmitting the disease to the patients. They were misreading the feedback. They were being tricked.

Not sure what any of this means, but I hope you find it interesting too.

October 11, 2014

Ballard, Washington. iPhone 5c 1/320 f/2.4 ISO 50

Weekend Reads

Some of the best things I’ve read over the past week or so:

On the 35 Hunter  blog, some interesting discussions arose concerning obsessions and how to avoid the potential for negative influences while still harnessing the benefits.

In a strangely related post, on Farnam Street, comes a discussion of Gates Law. “Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years.” https://fs.blog/2019/05/gates-law/

Russ Roberts, a skeptical economics professor, has a weekly podcast. http://www.econtalk.org. This week’s guest was Mary Hirschfeld. Hirschfeld looks at the nature of our economic activity as buyers and sellers and whether our pursuit of economic growth and material well-being comes at a cost. She encourages a skeptical stance about the ability of more stuff to produce true happiness and/or satisfaction. A link here: Podcast and additional information.

While not a blog post, I came across this phone and description in Kinfolk magazine of a photography book store in Korea. Storage Book Store

The best read of the week was a story in Fortune magazine on the decline of Sears. While many decry the recent corporate raid and point fingers at Amazon (and Walmart) the seeds of Sears’ demise were planted long ago. In fact, it’s market value peaked shortly before my birth a half century ago. Although a bit long, it’s well work a read.

May 11, 2019

Ellensburg, Washington. Fuji x100f 1/210 f5.6 ISO 400