31 OCT 2018 by ideonexus

 Insights on Being Well-Read

What is the true point of a bookish life? Note I write “point,” not “goal.” The bookish life can have no goal: It is all means and no end. The point, I should say, is not to become immensely knowledgeable or clever, and certainly not to become learned. Montaigne, who more than five centuries ago established the modern essay, grasped the point when he wrote, “I may be a man of fairly wide reading, but I retain nothing.” Retention of everything one reads, along with being mentally i...
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27 JUL 2018 by ideonexus

 Having Kids Makes One Cognizant of the Brevity of Life

Having kids showed me how to convert a continuous quantity, time, into discrete quantities. You only get 52 weekends with your 2 year old. If Christmas-as-magic lasts from say ages 3 to 10, you only get to watch your child experience it 8 times. And while it's impossible to say what is a lot or a little of a continuous quantity like time, 8 is not a lot of something. If you had a handful of 8 peanuts, or a shelf of 8 books to choose from, the quantity would definitely seem limited, no matter ...
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27 JUL 2018 by ideonexus

 We Need Play to Learn the Rules of the Game for the Civil...

The Real Significance of Play.—This scheme is, doubtless, imperfect, as critics of Groos’s book have taken occasion to point out, but the idea which underlies it all is a most suggestive and illuminating one, when rightly understood. In his latest work on the play of man, which has recently appeared, Groos makes clear this point (253, p. 492), when he observes: ‘I presuppose everywhere the existence of innate impulses (Triebe), and assume that these have only led to play-exercise (Spiel...
Folksonomies: education culture play
Folksonomies: education culture play
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07 NOV 2017 by ideonexus

 Scientists in New Atlantis

"These are (my son) the riches of Salomon's House. "For the several employments and offices of our fellows; we have twelve that sail into foreign countries, under the names of other nations, (for our own we conceal); who bring us the books, and abstracts, and patterns of experiments of all other parts. These we call Merchants of Light. "We have three that collect the experiments which are in all books. These we call Depredators. "We have three that collect the experiments of all mechanical...
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25 OCT 2017 by ideonexus

 The False Promise of WWW Enlightenment

Never before have so many people been connected together in an instantly responsive network through which memes can spread faster than natural viruses. But the notion that taking the whole world online would create a utopia of netizens, all equal in cyberspace, was always a fantasy—as much a delusion as Luther’s vision of a “priesthood of all believers.” The reality is that the global network has become a transmission mechanism for all kinds of manias and panics, just as the combinati...
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29 SEP 2017 by ideonexus

 It’s Okay to “Forget” What You Read

What we get from books is not just a collection of names, dates and events stored in our minds like files in a computer. Books also change, via our mental models, the very reality that we perceive. You can think of mental models as psychological lenses that color and shape what we see. Some of this is genetic or cultural (Americans focus on very different parts of a picture than the Japanese do), but much of our perception is also shaped by experience — and experience includes the book...
Folksonomies: experience memory reading
Folksonomies: experience memory reading
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22 SEP 2017 by ideonexus

 Outsourcing our Thinking to Algorithms and Those Who Engi...

...even as an algorithm mindlessly implements its procedures – and even as it learns to see new patterns in the data – it reflects the minds of its creators, the motives of its trainers. Amazon and Netflix use algorithms to make recommendations about books and films. (One-third of purchases on Amazon come from these recommendations.) These algorithms seek to understand our tastes, and the tastes of like-minded consumers of culture. Yet the algorithms make fundamentally different recommend...
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17 MAY 2017 by ideonexus

 The Collector's Fallacy

There’s a tendency in all of us to gather useful stuff and feel good about it. To collect is a reward in itself. As knowledge workers, we’re inclined to look for the next groundbreaking thought, for intellectual stimulation: we pile up promising books and articles, and we store half the internet as bookmarks, just so we get the feeling of being on the cutting edge. Let’s call this “The Collector’s Fallacy”. Why fallacy? Because ‘to know about something’ isn’t the same as ...
Folksonomies: knowledge reasearch
Folksonomies: knowledge reasearch
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17 MAY 2017 by ideonexus

 Diderot on Information Overload

As long as the centuries continue to unfold, the number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe. It will be almost as convenient to search for some bit of truth concealed in nature as it will be to find it hidden away in an immense multitude of bound volumes. When that time comes, a project, until then neglected because the need for it was not felt,...
Folksonomies: information overload
Folksonomies: information overload
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29 DEC 2016 by ideonexus

 You were never actually accomplishing anything by watchin...

If you ask someone what they accomplish by watching the news, you’ll hear vague notions like, “It’s our civic duty to stay informed!” or “I need to know what’s going on in the world,” or “We can’t just ignore these issues,” none of which answer the question. “Being informed” sounds like an accomplishment, but it implies that any information will do. You can become informed by reading a bus schedule. A month after you’ve quit the news, it’s hard to name anything u...
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