The biggest design decision I’ve made is more of a continuous philosophy: do as few extremely time-consuming features as possible. As a result, Instapaper is a collection of a bunch of very easy things and only a handful of semi-hard things.
This philosophy sounds simple, but it isn’t: geeks like us are always tempted to implement very complex, never-ending features because they’re academically or algorithmically interesting, or because they can add massive value if done well, such as speech or handwriting recognition, recommendation engines, or natural-language processing.
These features — often very easy for people but very hard for computers — often produce mediocre-at-best results, are never truly finished, and usually require massive time investments to achieve incremental progress with diminishing returns.” —
The counter argument here is that you end up hill climbing to local maxima*. Disruptive improvements oftentimes require major changes. Netflix from physical DVDs -> Streaming. Amazon with Kindle. Facebook with Newsfeed.
*This is also a criticism of A/B testing.
Go humanity, go.
Monopoly is a good game for libertarians. Everybody starts out in the same spot. The rules are clear and understandable. There’s a lot of luck—but enough skill that you can feel good about winning. And it’s just a game. We don’t need to shed any tears for the losers.
To succinctly demonstrate my problems with the libertarian view, let’s change one rule. The player with the wealthiest parents will start with $3,000. The other players will start with $1,500, $500, and $0 respectively. The poor kid who starts with nothing could, concievably, land on Chance and get a bit of money—or make it all the way around the board to get money for passing Go. The rich guy can avoid that liquidity crunch that sometimes happens if you buy too much and can’t afford to errect houses. It’s not a foregone conclusion who will win the game. But some players have a much, much better chance than others. And the one who starts with nothing has a near-zero chance of success.
This game isn’t fun. It isn’t fair. It would be a stupid game—and anybody remotely interested in fairness should want to change the arbitrary and nonsensical rules. If you end up winning the game after starting with the $3,000 advantage, you should feel a bit embarassed about it. It would be unsightly to gloat. And it would be completely dickish to claim that the person who started with nothing lost out of laziness.
The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.
We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.” —
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The Purpose of Education,” an article written by King as an undergraduate in the Morehouse campus newspaper (1948)
vruz: perfect response to that ode to mindless speciaisation that azspot posted the other day.
I find it interesting that azspot’s quote stopped being true on every level not long after King’s article was written. It was always untrue on most levels. Pushing for specialization and delegation was always counter-humanist, but many people could rationalize it based on building a richer country where our national materialism was satisfied for a couple of generations. The desserts of imperialism and other delayed costs are now clear, of course.
IQ and Stock Market Participation - Mark Grinblatt, Matti Keloharju and Juhani Linnainmaa in the Journal of Finance.
I’m sure this will just confirm the beliefs wall street denizens already had about their own abilities.