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Have You Heard? Pete Buttigieg Is Really Smart
"He holds degrees from Harvard and Oxford. Like many Ivy League grads, he also worked as a consultant for McKinsey. He won a national essay contest in high school. He speaks eight languages, including English, Norwegian, Maltese, Italian, French, Spanish, Dari, and Arabic. He learned Norwegian to read a favorite author in that language, and at a recent press conference, spoke with some Norwegian journalists in their native tongue. He was a Rhodes Scholar.

He’s been precocious all his life — no wonder that at only thirty-seven he’s running for president. Pete Buttigieg, son of two professors, is a classic Smart Dude, and there is nothing journalists love more. His followers even have a proudly know-it-all approach to his name, showing up at his rallies with signs explaining, “It’s Pete BOOT-Edge-Edge.” He says he’s all about “bringing forward good ideas.”

For the upper professional-managerial class (PMC), guys like this represent a dreamy ideal of human supremacy. That’s because for them, all of life is an Ivy League application. Well-rounded “smartness” is everything, even in the wake of recent news that this is not necessarily what elite college admissions are based upon.

As a result, BOOTedgedge has been the focus of a media frenzy, despite polling far behind Sanders and Biden (even 538 is skeptical of his recent much-ballyhooed jump in Iowa). CNN’s Chris Cillizza finds his resumé “remarkable.” Some call him “bookish.” Queerty.com exults that he “represents the best and brightest of our country.” A New Republic headline uses the word “Genius.”

Liberal feminists have rightly bristled at the collective ecstasy over the mighty dome of BOOTedgedge. When economist boy-wonder Alan Cole tweeted this week, “Mayor Pete seems head and shoulders smarter than the other candidates running and IMO that should count for quite a lot,” he was widely and correctly rebuked for sexism. What about Elizabeth Warren, asked Katha Pollitt, Jill Filipovic, and many others. The Twittersphere weighed in with lists of Warren’s accomplishments. Others pointed out that the tweet was possibly racist as well as sexist; Julian Castro holds degrees from Harvard, Harvard Law School, and Stanford, and Cory Booker was, like BOOTedgedge, a Rhodes Scholar, among a pile of other academic achievements.

The question of what “smart” even means and why this type of smart should matter in a presidential race got less attention. One person rightly asked, “are you sure he’s not just smart in the ways you also fancy yourself to also be smart.” No one asked why this particular form of well-credentialed “smart” should “count for quite a lot.”

That’s because while the PMC are often eager to be more inclusive about who gets to be “smart” — women, black people — they have tremendous faith in the concept itself. They love rich people whose intelligence has made them prosper: they may cringe at the science-denying Koch Brothers but they went into deep mourning when Steve Jobs died. They devour Malcolm Gladwell’s veneration of the wisdom of genius entrepreneurs over the plodding, clueless masses.

This notion of “smart” allows elites to recast inequality as meritocracy. In this narrative, you’re rich because you did well in high school and went to Princeton, not because capitalism has taken something from someone else and given it to you. Yet the culture of smart is not all smugness; it also contains a heavy dose of fear. The PMC understands that while it’s fun to brag about having a kid like BOOTedgeedge, it’s not optional (like, say, having a pet that can do weird tricks, a cat that can use a human toilet, for instance). In the neoliberal order, if you’re not born into the top 0.1 percent, you have to be “smart” and unusually talented and motivated, otherwise you will not only lose what privileges you have, but possibly not even survive. As New York Times columnist Tom Friedman once gleefully proclaimed, “Average is over.”

The PMC therefore tries hard to make their children “gifted” and to nourish their talents, an effort that is supposed to culminate in the kind of august institutional validation that BOOTedgedge has enjoyed. Because they have, all their lives, felt a certain panic about the need to be college-application impressive, the PMC has come to see such impressiveness as somehow morally admirable. For people like this, the recent college admissions scandal, exposing corruption at institutions like Yale and USC, occasions not eye-rolling and wisecracks, as it does on dirtbag Twitter (this writer is guilty), but earnest hand-wringing about fairness and social justice. Smartness, to them, makes some people more deserving of the good life than others. Smartness culture is social Darwinism for liberals.

This obsession pervades the politics of the PMC. Trump’s proud ignorance and shameless pandering to the nation’s dumbness often seems to gall them more than his inhumane, death-drive policies. This class always seeks a Smart Dude as savior. Obama, of course, represents successful fulfillment of this dream, and they can’t wait to repeat it. Beto, after some initial signs of promise, has now revealed himself to be a dummy who has to ask his wife on the proper usage of “subconscious.” Hence, BOOTedgedge mania.

The quest reflects a theory of change in which, as political scientist Adolph Reed Jr remarked years ago, describing the worldview of some of his academic colleagues, “all the smart people get together on the Vineyard and solve the world’s problems.” Davos is the fullest expression of this: elites get together and showcase how smart they are, advertising how fit they are to be our ruling elites.

It’s oddly banal, the culture of smart. Like most of the detritus of “smartness” culture, from Freakonomics to TED Talks to NPR, BOOTedgedge is politically underwhelming. What good ideas he has are shared by other candidates in the crowded field, some originating from politicians to his left, like Bernie Sanders. His bad ideas are hardly edgy, either: capitalism can be good while government regulation can be bad.

This Democratic primary lineup is not the worst, and within it, neither is Mayor Pete (the term used by those not quite smart enough to pronounce BOOTedgedge). He seems to support Medicare for All and the Green New Deal in some form. He invested in infrastructure in South Bend. He won office as an openly gay man in Mike Pence country and has a record of connecting with voters who voted for Trump. And there’s no question that he’d be a better president than Trump or some of his Democratic primary competitors. We do need a president capable of reading a book, not one reveling proudly in his ignorance like the current occupant of the White House, who seems to reflect our dumbest tendencies insultingly right back to us. (When Trump this week fantasized that a Hillary Clinton victory would have turned the power grid over to solar energy and deprived us of the joy of watching TV, the writer Tara Rose aptly observed, “He’s so perfect for the kind of stupid that we are.”) A BOOTedgedge presidency would reassure those of us who believe in things like science and logic that we have stepped back from the braying idiocy that now envelopes us like a toxic plume. Of course, that would be a pleasant reprieve.

But the obsession with his kind of ostentatious intelligence is deeply unserious and anti-democratic. “Smart” is not going to save us, and fetishizing its most conventional manifestations shores up bourgeois ideology and undermines the genuinely emancipatory politics of collective action. Bernie Sanders, instead of showing off his University of Chicago education, touts the power of the masses: “Not Me, Us.” The cult of the Smart Dude leads us into just the opposite place, which is probably why some liberals like it so much."
elitism  meritocracy  2019  petebuttigieg  smartness  lizafeatherstone  inequality  berniesanders  politics  elections  saviors  merit  liberalism  socialdarwinism  malcolmgladwell  genius 
april 2019 by robertogreco
The Limits of “Grit” - The New Yorker
"For children, the situation has grown worse as we’ve slackened our efforts to fight poverty. In 1966, when Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty initiatives were a major national priority, the poverty rate among American children was eighteen per cent. Now it is twenty-two per cent. If we suffer from a grit deficiency in this country, it shows up in our unwillingness to face what is obviously true—that poverty is the real cause of failing schools.

In this context, grit appears as a new hope. As the federal programs stalled, psychologists, neuroscientists, pediatricians, education reformers, and journalists began looking at the lives of children in a different way. Their central finding: non-cognitive skills play just as great a role as talent and native intelligence (I.Q.) in the academic and social success of children, and maybe even a greater role. In brief, we are obsessed with talent, but we should also be obsessed with effort. Duckworth is both benefitting from this line of thought and expanding it herself. The finding about non-cognitive skills is being treated as a revelation, and maybe it should be; among other things, it opens possible avenues for action. Could cultivating grit and other character traits be the cure, the silver bullet that ends low performance?"



"Now, there’s something very odd about this list. There’s nothing in it about honesty or courage; nothing about integrity, kindliness, responsibility for others. The list is innocent of ethics, any notion of moral development, any mention of the behaviors by which character has traditionally been marked. Levin, Randolph, and Duckworth would seem to be preparing children for personal success only—doing well at school, getting into college, getting a job, especially a corporate job where such docility as is suggested by these approved traits (gratitude?) would be much appreciated by managers. Putting it politically, the “character” inculcated in students by Levin, Randolph, and Duckworth is perfectly suited to producing corporate drones in a capitalist economy. Putting it morally and existentially, the list is timid and empty. The creativity and wildness that were once our grace to imagine as part of human existence would be extinguished by strict adherence to these instrumentalist guidelines."



"Not just Duckworth’s research but the entire process feels tautological: we will decide what elements of “character” are essential to success, and we will inculcate these attributes in children, measuring and grading the children accordingly, and shutting down, as collateral damage, many other attributes of character and many children as well. Among other things, we will give up the sentimental notion that one of the cardinal functions of education is to bring out the individual nature of every child.

Can so narrow an ideal of character flourish in a society as abundantly and variously gifted as our own? Duckworth’s view of life is devoted exclusively to doing, at the expense of being. She seems indifferent to originality or creativity or even simple thoughtfulness. We must all gear up, for grit is a cause, an imp of force. “At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.” Through much of “Grit,” she gives the impression that quitting any activity before achieving mastery is a cop-out. (“How many of us vow to knit sweaters for all our friends but only manage half a sleeve before putting down the needles? Ditto for home vegetable gardens, compost bins, and diets.”) But what is the value of these projects? Surely some things are more worth pursuing than others. If grit mania really flowers, one can imagine a mass of grimly determined people exhausting themselves and everyone around them with obsessional devotion to semi-worthless tasks—a race of American squares, anxious, compulsive, and constrained. They can never try hard enough.

Duckworth’s single-mindedness could pose something of a danger to the literal-minded. Young people who stick to their obsessions could wind up out on a limb, without a market for their skills. Spelling ability is nice, if somewhat less useful than, say, the ability to make a mixed drink—a Negroni, a Tom Collins. But what do you do with it? Are the thirteen-year-old champion spellers going to go through life spelling out difficult words to astonished listeners? I realize, of course, that persistence in childhood may pay off years later in some unrelated activity. But I’m an owlish enough parent to insist that the champion spellers might have spent their time reading something good—or interacting with other kids. And what if a child has only moderate talent for her particular passion? Mike Egan, a former member of the United States Marine Band, wrote a letter to the Times Book Review in response to Judith Shulevitz’s review of Duckworth’s book. “Anyone who would tell a child that the only thing standing between him or her and world-class achievement is sufficient work,” Egan wrote, “ought to be jailed for child abuse.”

Duckworth not only ignores the actual market for skills and talents, she barely acknowledges that success has more than a casual relation to family income. After all, few of us can stick to a passion year after year that doesn’t pay off—not without serious support. Speaking for myself, the most important element in my social capital as an upper-middle-class New York guy was, indeed, capital—my parents carried me for a number of years as I fumbled my way to a career as a journalist and critic. Did I have grit? I suppose so, but their support made persistence possible.

After many examples of success, Duckworth announces a theory: “Talent x effort = skill. Skill x effort = achievement.” It’s hardly E=mc2. It’s hardly a theory at all—it’s more like a pop way of formalizing commonplace observation and single-mindedness. Compare Duckworth’s book in this respect with Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers.” Gladwell also traced the backgrounds of extraordinarily accomplished people—the computer geniuses Bill Gates and Bill Joy, business tycoons, top lawyers in New York, and so on. And Gladwell discovered that, yes, his world-beaters devoted years to learning and to practice: ten thousand hours, he says, is the rough amount of time it takes for talented people to become masters.

Yet, if perseverance is central to Gladwell’s outliers, it’s hardly the sole reason for their success. Family background, opportunity, culture, landing at the right place at the right time, the over-all state of the economy—all these elements, operating at once, allow some talented people to do much better than other talented people. Gladwell provides the history and context of successful lives. Duckworth—indifferent to class, race, history, society, culture—strips success of its human reality, and her single-minded theory may explain very little. Is there any good football team, for instance, that doesn’t believe in endless practice, endurance, overcoming pain and exhaustion? All professional football teams train hard, so grit can’t be the necessary explanation for the Seahawks’ success. Pete Carroll and his coaches must be bringing other qualities, other strategies, to the field. Observing those special qualities is where actual understanding might begin."
grit  2016  angeladuckworth  race  class  luck  perseverance  daviddenby  education  mastery  practice  kipp  character  classism  elitism  obsessions  malcolmgladwell  serendipity  mikeegan  judithshulevitz  capital  privilege  success  effort  talent  skill  achievement  history  culture  society  edreform  nep  pisa  testing  standardizedtesting  nclb  rttt  socialscience  paultough  children  schools  poverty  eq  neuroscience  jackshonkoff  martinseligman  learnedoptimism  depression  pessimism  optimism  davelevin  dominicrandolph  honesty  courage  integrity  kindliness  kindness  samuelabrams 
june 2016 by robertogreco
How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off - The New York Times
"Child prodigies rarely become adult geniuses who change the world. We assume that they must lack the social and emotional skills to function in society. When you look at the evidence, though, this explanation doesn’t suffice: Less than a quarter of gifted children suffer from social and emotional problems. A vast majority are well adjusted — as winning at a cocktail party as in the spelling bee.

What holds them back is that they don’t learn to be original. They strive to earn the approval of their parents and the admiration of their teachers. But as they perform in Carnegie Hall and become chess champions, something unexpected happens: Practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t make new.

The gifted learn to play magnificent Mozart melodies, but rarely compose their own original scores. They focus their energy on consuming existing scientific knowledge, not producing new insights. They conform to codified rules, rather than inventing their own. Research suggests that the most creative children are the least likely to become the teacher’s pet, and in response, many learn to keep their original ideas to themselves. In the language of the critic William Deresiewicz, they become the excellent sheep.

In adulthood, many prodigies become experts in their fields and leaders in their organizations. Yet “only a fraction of gifted children eventually become revolutionary adult creators,” laments the psychologist Ellen Winner. “Those who do must make a painful transition” to an adult who “ultimately remakes a domain.”

Most prodigies never make that leap. They apply their extraordinary abilities by shining in their jobs without making waves. They become doctors who heal their patients without fighting to fix the broken medical system or lawyers who defend clients on unfair charges but do not try to transform the laws themselves.

So what does it take to raise a creative child? One study compared the families of children who were rated among the most creative 5 percent in their school system with those who were not unusually creative. The parents of ordinary children had an average of six rules, like specific schedules for homework and bedtime. Parents of highly creative children had an average of fewer than one rule.

Creativity may be hard to nurture, but it’s easy to thwart. By limiting rules, parents encouraged their children to think for themselves. They tended to “place emphasis on moral values, rather than on specific rules,” the Harvard psychologist Teresa Amabile reports.

Even then, though, parents didn’t shove their values down their children’s throats. When psychologists compared America’s most creative architects with a group of highly skilled but unoriginal peers, there was something unique about the parents of the creative architects: “Emphasis was placed on the development of one’s own ethical code.”

Yes, parents encouraged their children to pursue excellence and success — but they also encouraged them to find “joy in work.” Their children had freedom to sort out their own values and discover their own interests. And that set them up to flourish as creative adults.

When the psychologist Benjamin Bloom led a study of the early roots of world-class musicians, artists, athletes and scientists, he learned that their parents didn’t dream of raising superstar kids. They weren’t drill sergeants or slave drivers. They responded to the intrinsic motivation of their children. When their children showed interest and enthusiasm in a skill, the parents supported them.

Top concert pianists didn’t have elite teachers from the time they could walk; their first lessons came from instructors who happened to live nearby and made learning fun. Mozart showed interest in music before taking lessons, not the other way around. Mary Lou Williams learned to play the piano on her own; Itzhak Perlman began teaching himself the violin after being rejected from music school."



"Evidence shows that creative contributions depend on the breadth, not just depth, of our knowledge and experience. In fashion, the most original collections come from directors who spend the most time working abroad. In science, winning a Nobel Prize is less about being a single-minded genius and more about being interested in many things. Relative to typical scientists, Nobel Prize winners are 22 times more likely to perform as actors, dancers or magicians; 12 times more likely to write poetry, plays or novels; seven times more likely to dabble in arts and crafts; and twice as likely to play an instrument or compose music.

No one is forcing these luminary scientists to get involved in artistic hobbies. It’s a reflection of their curiosity. And sometimes, that curiosity leads them to flashes of insight. “The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition,” Albert Einstein reflected. His mother enrolled him in violin lessons starting at age 5, but he wasn’t intrigued. His love of music only blossomed as a teenager, after he stopped taking lessons and stumbled upon Mozart’s sonatas. “Love is a better teacher than a sense of duty,” he said.

Hear that, Tiger Moms and Lombardi Dads? You can’t program a child to become creative. Try to engineer a certain kind of success, and the best you’ll get is an ambitious robot. If you want your children to bring original ideas into the world, you need to let them pursue their passions, not yours."
creativity  parenting  prodigies  childprodigies  innovation  learning  howwelearn  education  training  freedom  2016  children  alberteinstein  curiosity  play  malcolmgladwell  benjaminbloom  gifted  itzhakperlman  music  sports  andreagassi  practice 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Artist Endures - The Atlantic
"What’s more, the idea that 10,000 hours of practice makes someone an expert may not even be psychologically valid. A recent meta-analysis found that while practice correlated with skill, it did not at all explain it. “Deliberate practice left more of the variation in skill unexplained than it explained,” wrote one of that study’s authors in Slate. We know so little about this idea because it’s so relatively recent: The first research suggesting a “10,000 Hour Rule” existed was published in 1993, and the rule itself only became popularized with the 2008 release of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers.

And look what happened: In six years, the idea became such a part of the cultural atmosphere that Deresiewicz can treat it like it’s timeless. But it’s not—it’s new, as much a part of the changing artistic firmament as the compulsion to have a website.

But that doesn’t mean its meaningless. The “10,000 Hour Rule” caught on because it invited readers to a cultural meritocracy. It discredited the un-American idea that in-born talent drives careers, instead suggesting that any discipline, any craft or art, could be accessible to anyone through hours upon hours of practice. Maybe that’s true: We just don’t know. Likewise, I don’t know whether true cultural democracy is coming.

But I do know one thing. The value of any discipline, whether craft or art, is not extracted solely by experts. In his essay, Deresiewicz approves of how Gertrude Stein once scolded Picasso for writing poetry. I have also heard Picasso was a terrible poet, but I really don’t know, and I can’t hazard whether some iambic innovation would have spurred him to paint differently.

I am not Picasso, though, and neither are you. And in the world I’d like to live in, everyone—whether they’re a famous painter or a CPA—would feel as though they can explore the breadth of human expression, whether through writing poetry or learning about Chinese pottery or even researching historical pickling methods. If cultural democracy comes, my guess is it will not look like 100 million specialists. It will appear as a society of curious minds, captivated by human traditions and inspired to improve upon them, interested in the many places in the world where humans have spent their attention—and hungry to invest more."
robinsonmeyer  2014  art  williamderesiewicz  craft  practice  internet  malcolmgladwell  advice  democracy  culture  creativity  attention  specialists  specialization  generalists  meritocracy  joirodreamsofsushi  gertrudestein  pablopicasso  dilettantes  innovation  imagination 
january 2015 by robertogreco
2/2 The Culture Show : Jon Ronson meets Malcolm Gladwell - YouTube
"First broadcast: 02 Oct 2013.

Malcolm Gladwell is about to publish a book. He's done it four times before, and whenever it happens huge things occur: Millions of copies get sold, world leaders take note, catchy phrases infiltrate our language and millions of us are moved by his inspiring stories and big powerful ideas.

Jon Ronson goes head to head with The Tipping Point author in his New York home to talk about his latest work. 'David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants' seeks to shake our faith in what it means to have the upper hand. In it Gladwell argues we get advantage and disadvantage the wrong way round. Being dyslexic, losing a parent in childhood, being bombed, shot at, marginalized... can all be turned to good, according to his latest optimistic tome.

In this candid and revealing confrontation, one thing comes clear... Giants beware: underdogs can surprise you when they make good the advantages that stem from a traumatic start."

[via: https://twitter.com/litherland/status/543135968304578561 ]
2013  via:litherland  malcolmgladwell  brokenwindows  jonronson  policing  lawenforcement  crime  journalism  power  policy  nyc  socialjustice  homelessness  injustice  justice  homeless 
december 2014 by robertogreco
TIPPING POINTS? MALCOLM GLADWELL COULD USE A FEW | Our Bad Media
"How could The New Yorker’s fact-checking department fail catch all this? How could an editor see the detail in Gladwell’s descriptions and not ask for backup? There are only two plausible answers here. The first is this: Gladwell may have said that he was describing well-documented events and that the quotes and details had “escaped their source.” Indeed, as reported by the Columbia Journalism Review’s Edirin Oputu, the fact-checking director at The New Yorker, Peter Canby, has used this exact defense in the past.

This past April, a New Yorker article by Elizabeth Kolbert quoted the following from chemist F. Sherwood Rowland, without attribution:
“What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?”

The quote, Oputu noted, had originally appeared in a 1986 New Yorker piece by Paul Brodeur. “The New Yorker,” she wrote, “had effectively plagiarized itself.” In response, Canby said that the quote was “so widely used without attribution that it has effectively escaped its authorship.”

But that defense simply doesn’t pass the sniff test here. Almost none of the quotes – not those from Tesler or Jobs, or those from the Troy-Greenfield railroad promoters, or those of the participants in the Greensboro sit-ins – have reached escape velocity and broken free from the need for attribution. It’s almost impossible to find any of them before they appeared in Gladwell’s articles. And it’s not just the quotes that haven’t escaped their original, obscure sources – the vast majority of the details used by Gladwell haven’t, either.

So is this on The New Yorker’s factcheckers? As former New Yorker factchecker Jon Swan wrote in reply to the Rowland incident, “surely the checker is not alone at fault for this breach of journalistic ethics. Editor and author are involved in the process. Did the editor ask for verification? Did the author know where the quote had originated?” In this case, probably not. As we’ve seen demonstrated by Fareed Zakaria, as well as the initial protection of both Lehrer and BuzzFeed’s “deeply original” Benny Johnson, sometimes an outlet’s superstar gets a little more leeway."

[See also: http://www.poynter.org/news/mediawire/307589/zakaria-critics-turn-their-attention-to-malcolm-gladwell/ ]
malcolmgladwell  ethics  journalism  newyorker  2014  plagiarism  jonahlehrer  attribution 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Actually, practice doesn’t always make perfect — new study - The Washington Post
"We’ve long been eager to believe that mastery of a skill is primarily the result of how much effort one has put in. Extensive practice “is probably the most reasonable explanation we have today not only for success in any line, but even for genius,” said the ur-behaviorist John B. Watson almost a century ago.

In the 1990s K. Anders Ericsson and a colleague at Florida State University reported data that seemed to confirm this view: What separates the expert from the amateur, a first-rate musician or chess player from a wannabe, isn’t talent; it’s thousands of hours of work. (Malcolm Gladwell, drawing from but misrepresenting Ericsson’s research — much to the latter’s dismay — announced the magic number was ten thousand hours.)

It’s daunting to imagine putting in that kind of commitment, but we’re comforted nonetheless by the idea that practice is the primary contributor to excellence. That’s true, I think, for three reasons:

1. Common sense: It seems obvious that the more time you spend trying to get better at something, the more proficient you’ll become. That’s why so many educators continue to invoke the old phrase “time on task,” which, in turn, drives demands for longer school days or years. Common sense, however, isn’t always correct. Researchers have found that only when “achievement” is defined as rote recall do we discover a strong, linear relationship with time. When the focus is on depth of understanding and sophisticated problem solving, time on task doesn’t predict outcome very well at all – either in reading or math.

2. Protestant work ethic: Many people simply don’t like the idea that someone could succeed without having paid his or her dues — or, conversely, that lots of deliberate practice might prove fruitless. Either of these possibilities threatens people’s belief in what social psychologists call a “just world.” This sensibility helps to explain why copious homework continues to be assigned despite dubious evidence that it provides any benefit (and zero evidence that it’s beneficial in elementary school): We just don’t want those kids goofing off, darn it — not in the evening and not even during the summer! Hence the recent enthusiasm for “grit,” which is basically a repackaging of age-old exhortations to stick with whatever you’ve been told to do. (Indeed, Ericsson collaborated with grit maven Angela Duckworth on a study of spelling bee champions.)

3. Nurture over nature: “Innate? Necessarily so!” is what we’ve heard for centuries. Given the tawdry history of biological reductionism, which usually manages to rationalize current arrangements of power as being due to the natural superiority of privileged groups, is it any wonder we remain leery of attributing success to inherited talent? It’s more egalitarian to declare that geniuses are made, not born. Indeed, that skepticism is bolstered by evidence (from Carol Dweck and others) indicating that students are more likely to embrace learning if they believe their performance results from effort, something under their control, rather than from a fixed level of intelligence that they either possess or lack.

*

For many of us, then, Ericsson’s conclusion has been deeply reassuring: Practice hard and you’ll do well. But along comes a brand-new meta-analysis, a statistical summary of 157 separate comparisons in 88 recent studies, that finds practice actually doesn’t play nearly as significant a role as we’d like to think.

“The evidence is quite clear that some people do reach an elite level of performance without copious practice, while other people fail to do so despite copious practice,” wrote Brooke Macnamara, David Hambrick, and Frederick Oswald in Psychological Science. In fact, they calculated that, overall, the amount of deliberate practice in which someone engages explains only 12 percent of the variance in the quality of performance. Which means 88 percent is explained by other factors."
grit  practice  2014  alfiekohn  angeladuckworth  kandersericsson  malcolmgladwell  workethic  nurture  caroldweck  brookemacnamara  davidhambrick  frederickoswald 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Our Comrade The Electron - Webstock Conference Talk
"Termen had good timing. Lenin was just about to launch a huge campaign under the curiously specific slogan:

COMMUNISM = SOVIET POWER + ELECTRIFICATION OF THE WHOLE COUNTRY

Why make such a big deal of electrification?

Well, Lenin had just led a Great Proletarian Revolution in a country without a proletariat, which is like making an omelette without any eggs. You can do it, but it raises questions. It's awkward.

Lenin needed a proletariat in a hurry, and the fastest way to do that was to electrify and industrialize the country.

But there was another, unstated reason for the campaign. Over the centuries, Russian peasants had become experts at passively resisting central authority. They relied on the villages of their enormous country being backward, dispersed, and very hard to get to.

Lenin knew that if he could get the peasants on the grid, it would consolidate his power. The process of electrifying the countryside would create cities, factories, and concentrate people around large construction projects. And once the peasantry was dependent on electric power, there would be no going back.

History does not record whether Lenin stroked a big white cat in his lap and laughed maniacally as he thought of this, so we must assume it happened."



"RANT

Technology concentrates power.

In the 90's, it looked like the Internet might be an exception, that it could be a decentralizing, democratizing force. No one controlled it, no one designed it, it was just kind of assembling itself in an appealing, anarchic way. The companies that first tried to centralize the Internet, like AOL and Microsoft, failed risibly. And open source looked ready to slay any dragon.

But those days are gone. We've centralized the bejesus out of the Internet now. There's one search engine (plus the one no one uses), one social network (plus the one no one uses), one Twitter. We use one ad network, one analytics suite. Anywhere you look online, one or two giant American companies utterly dominate the field.

And there's the cloud. What a brilliant name! The cloud is the future of online computing, a friendly, fluffy abstraction that we will all ascend into, swaddled in light. But really the cloud is just a large mess of servers somewhere, the property of one American company (plus the clouds no one uses).

Orwell imagined a world with a telescreen in every room, always on, always connected, always monitored. An Xbox One vision of dystopia.

But we've done him one better. Nearly everyone here carries in their pocket a tracking device that knows where you are, who you talk to, what you look at, all these intimate details of your life, and sedulously reports them to private servers where the data is stored in perpetuity.

I know I sound like a conspiracy nut framing it like this. I'm not saying we live in an Orwellian nightmare. I love New Zealand! But we have the technology.

When I was in grade school, they used to scare us with something called the permanent record. If you threw a spitball at your friend, it would go in your permanent record, and prevent you getting a good job, or marrying well, until eventually you'd die young and friendless and be buried outside the churchyard wall.

What a relief when we found out that the permanent record was a fiction. Except now we've gone and implemented the damned thing. Each of us leaves an indelible, comet-like trail across the Internet that cannot be erased and that we're not even allowed to see.

The things we really care about seem to disappear from the Internet immediately, but post a stupid YouTube comment (now linked to your real identity) and it will live forever.

And we have to track all this stuff, because the economic basis of today's web is advertising, or the promise of future advertising. The only way we can convince investors to keep the money flowing is by keeping the most detailed records possible, tied to people's real identities. Apart from a few corners of anonymity, which not by accident are the most culturally vibrant parts of the Internet, everything is tracked and has to be tracked or the edifice collapses.

What upsets me isn't that we created this centralized version of the Internet based on permanent surveillance.

What upsets me, what really gets my goat, is that we did it because it was the easiest thing to do. There was no design, forethought, or analysis involved. No one said "hey, this sounds like a great world to live in, let's make it". It happened because we couldn't be bothered.

Making things ephemeral is hard.

Making things distributed is hard.

Making things anonymous is hard.

Coming up with a sane business model is really hard—I get tired just thinking about it.

So let's take people's data, throw it on a server, link it to their Facebook profiles, keep it forever, and if we can't raise another round of venture funding we'll just slap Google ads on the thing.

"High five, Chad!"

"High five, bro!"

That is the design process that went into building the Internet of 2014.

And of course now we are shocked—shocked!—when, for example, the Ukrainian government uses cell tower data to send scary text messages to protesters in Kiev, in order to try to keep them off the streets. Bad people are using the global surveillance system we built to do something mean! Holy crap! Who could have imagined this?

Or when we learn that the American government is reading the email that you send unencrypted to the ad-supported mail service in another country where it gets archived forever. Inconceivable!

I'm not saying these abuses aren't serious. But they're the opposite of surprising. People will always abuse power. That's not a new insight. There are cuneiform tablets complaining about it. Yet here we are in 2014, startled because unscrupulous people have started to use the powerful tools we created for them.

We put so much care into making the Internet resilient from technical failures, but make no effort to make it resilient to political failure. We treat freedom and the rule of law like inexhaustible natural resources, rather than the fragile and precious treasures that they are.

And now, of course, it's time to make the Internet of Things, where we will connect everything to everything else, and build cool apps on top, and nothing can possibly go wrong."



"What I'm afraid of is the society we already live in. Where people like you and me, if we stay inside the lines, can enjoy lives of comfort and relative ease, but God help anyone who is declared out of bounds. Those people will feel the full might of the high-tech modern state.

Consider your neighbors across the Tasman, stewards of an empty continent, who have set up internment camps in the remotest parts of the Pacific for fear that a few thousand indigent people might come in on boats, take low-wage jobs, and thereby destroy their society.

Or the country I live in, where we have a bipartisan consensus that the only way to preserve our freedom is to fly remote controlled planes that occasionally drop bombs on children. It's straight out of Dostoevski.

Except Dostoevski needed a doorstop of a book to grapple with the question: “Is it ever acceptable for innocents to suffer for the greater good?” And the Americans, a more practical people, have answered that in two words: “Of course!”

Erika Hall in her talk yesterday wondered what Mao or Stalin could have done with the resources of the modern Internet. It's a good question. If you look at the history of the KGB or Stasi, they consumed enormous resources just maintaining and cross-referencing their mountains of paperwork. There's a throwaway line in Huxley's Brave New World where he mentions "800 cubic meters of card catalogs" in the eugenic baby factory. Imagine what Stalin could have done with a decent MySQL server.

We haven't seen yet what a truly bad government is capable of doing with modern information technology. What the good ones get up to is terrifying enough.

I'm not saying we can't have the fun next-generation Internet, where everyone wears stupid goggles and has profound conversations with their refrigerator. I'm just saying we can't slap it together like we've been doing so far and expect everything to work itself out.

The good news is, it's a design problem! You're all designers here - we can make it fun! We can build an Internet that's distributed, resilient, irritating to governments everywhere, and free in the best sense of the word, like we dreamed of in the 90's. But it will take effort and determination. It will mean scrapping permanent mass surveillance as a business model, which is going to hurt. It will mean pushing laws through a sclerotic legal system. There will have to be some nagging.

But if we don't design this Internet, if we just continue to build it out, then eventually it will attract some remarkable, visionary people. And we're not going to like them, and it's not going to matter."
internet  surveillance  technology  levsergeyevichtermen  theremin  electricity  power  control  wifi  intangibles  2014  maciejceglowski  physics  music  invention  malcolmgladwell  josephschillinger  rhythmicon  terpsitone  centralization  decentralization  cloud  google  facebook  us  government  policy  distributed  anonymity  ephemeral  ephemerality  tracking  georgeorwell  dystopia  nsa  nest  internetofthings  erikahall  design  buran  lenin  stalin  robertmoog  clararockmore  maciejcegłowski  iot  vladimirlenin 
february 2014 by robertogreco
On Smarm
"It is also no accident that David Eggers is full of shit."

"Smarm should be understood as a type of bullshit, then. It is a kind of moral and ethical misdirection."

"The old systems of prestige are rickety and insecure. Everyone has a publishing platform and no one has a career."

"What carries contemporary American political campaigns along is a thick flow of opaque smarm."

"Romney clambered up to a new higher ground, deploring the divisiveness of dwelling on his divisiveness."

"Through smarm, the "centrists" have cut themselves off from the language of actual dispute. In smarm is power."

"A civilization that speaks in smarm is a civilization that has lost its ability to talk about purposes at all."

"Joe Lieberman! If you would know smarm, look to Joe Lieberman."

"The plutocrats are haunted, as all smarmers are haunted, by a lack of respect. On Twitter, the only answer to "Do you know who I am?" is "One more person with 140 characters to use.""

"To actually say a plain and direct word like "corrupt" is more outlandish, in smarm's outlook, than even swearing."

"Anger is upsetting to smarm. But so is humor and confidence."

"Immense fortunes have bloomed in Silicon Valley on the most ephemeral and stupid windborne seeds of concepts. What's wrong with you, that you didn't get a piece of it?"
criticism  culture  smarm  snark  daveeggers  malcolmgladwell  2013  tomscocca  buzzfeed  heidijulavits  isaacfitzgerald  daviddenby  bambi  arifleischer  lannydavis  leesiegel  cynicism  negativity  tone  politics  writing  critique  mittromney  barackobama  michaelbloomberg  ianfrazier  centrists  power  redistribution  rebeccablank  civilization  dialog  conversation  purpose  jedediahpurdy  irony  joelieberman  marshallsella  billclinton  mainstream  georgewbush  maureendowd  rudeness  meanness  plutocrats  wealth  publishing  media  respect  niallferguson  alexpareene  mariabartiromo  gawker  choiresicha  anger  confidence  humor  spikelee  upworthy  adammordecai  juliachild  success  successfulness  niceness  tompeters  bullshit  morality  ethics  misdirection  insecurity  prestige  audience  dialogue 
december 2013 by robertogreco
The Killing Point
[As Tim put it: "Performance enhancing drugs as overclocking rather than improving human performance." https://twitter.com/doingitwrong/status/403658728819281920 ]

"What Gladwell fails to mention - at all - are the risks involved in using performance-enhancing drugs. There is nothing about the risks of blood doping or of pharmaceutical enhancement. He even skips the risks inherent in the very genetic condition he holds up as “lucky.” There is no mention of contact sports, where the decision to illegally enhance could be the difference between life and death for your competitor. There is no recognition that healthcare access for athletes is a continuum with the Lance Armstrongs at the upper end, with their elite teams of morally questionable medical practitioners,and with some kid at the bottom end, desperate for a place on the team, taking injectables that he gets from a friend of a friend."
overclocking  sports  performance  malcolmgladwell  2013  leighcowart  humans  performance-enhancingdrugs  drugs  lancearmstrong 
november 2013 by robertogreco
What Should Children Read? - NYTimes.com
"There are anthologies of great literature and primary documents, but why not “30 for Under 20: Great Nonfiction Narratives?” Until such editions appear, teachers can find complex, literary works in collections like “The Best American Science and Nature Writing,” on many newspaper Web sites, which have begun providing online lesson plans using articles for younger readers, and on ProPublica.org. Last year, The Atlantic compiled examples of the year’s best journalism, and The Daily Beast has its feature “Longreads.” Longform.org not only has “best of” contemporary selections but also historical examples dating back decades.

If students read 100 such articles over the course of a year, they may not become best-selling authors, but like Mr. Gladwell, they’ll get the sound and feel of good writing in their heads. With luck, when they graduate, there will still be ranks of literary nonfiction authors left for them to join."
2012  narrativenonfiction  radiolab  thisamericanlife  learning  teaching  davidcoleman  sandrastotsky  dianeravitch  standards  writing  malcolmgladwell  saramosle  commoncore  curriculum  schools  nonfiction  education  reading 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Your brain on pseudoscience: the rise of popular neurobollocks
"The idea that a neurological explanation could exhaust the meaning of experience was already being mocked as “medical materialism” by… William James a century ago…

Indeed, despite their technical paraphernalia of neurotransmitters and anterior temporal gyruses, modern pop brain books are offering a spiritual topography…

None of the foregoing should be taken to imply that fMRI and other brain-investigation techniques are useless: there is beautiful and amazing science in how they work and what well-designed experiments can teach us. [example]…

In this light, one might humbly venture a preliminary diagnosis of the pop brain hacks’ chronic intellectual error. It is that they misleadingly assume we always know how to interpret such “hidden” information, and that it is always more reliably meaningful than what lies in plain view. The hucksters of neuroscientism are the conspiracy theorists of the human animal, the 9/11 Truthers of the life of the mind."
self-improvement  self-help  neuroflâneurship  neuroprocrastination  neurogastronomy  neuromarketing  meurotheology  neuromagic  neuropolitics  christopherchabris  elainefox  samharris  popscience  neurobabble  neurobollocks  neurotrash  neuro  neurofillintheblank  chrismooney  johnarden  paulfletcher  williamjames  artmarkman  jonathanhaidt  robertkurzban  fMRI  descartes  jonahlehrer  malcolmgladwell  2012  stevenpoole  brain  science  neuroscience 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Making smart on Env
"Smart people can take something complex and express it faithfully in different, especially simpler, terms. They can interpret and reinterpret. If you want to make something smart, it’s tempting to do smartness to your topic until you’ve condensed it into some admirably lucid interpretation, then hand that to the audience and wait for the applause. Sometimes this is what’s needed. But it isn’t how to make smart things. A smart thing is something for a smart person. However many interpretations you put in it, however fertile they are, you leave room for more.

You do this because you respect what you are interpreting and you do it because you respect your audience. It’s a lot like being considerate. And that’s how you make smart things."
making  writing  subjectivities  balance  interpretation  dryness  comments  audience  clever  cleverness  criticism  superiority  disdain  milankundera  kitsch  storytelling  airs  malcolmgladwell  ted  smartness  authenticity  entertainment  art  nervio  thomaskincade  beauty  humor  neilgaiman  2012  consideration  smarts  smart  charlieloyd 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Sorry, Strivers - Talent Matters - NYTimes.com
"Research has shown that intellectual ability matters for success in many fields — and not just up to a point…

It would be nice if intellectual ability and the capacities that underlie it were important for success only up to a point. In fact, it would be nice if they weren’t important at all, because research shows that those factors are highly stable across an individual’s life span. But wishing doesn’t make it so.

None of this is to deny the power of practice. Nor is it to say that it’s impossible for a person with an average I.Q. to, say, earn a Ph.D. in physics. It’s just unlikely, relatively speaking. Sometimes the story that science tells us isn’t the story we want to hear."
talent  psychology  intelligence  practice  success  2011  research  davidhambrick  elizabethmeinz  davidbrooks  malcolmgladwell  iq 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Composition 1.01: How a Tool Everyone Has Could Change Education - James Somers - Technology - The Atlantic
"Whatever you produce joins dozens of other efforts in a stack whose growing thickness doesn't exactly thrill your professor. But still he'll soldier on and read, and maybe re-read, and mark up and grade each one. Along the way he might leave short contextual notes in the margin; he might write one long critique at the end; he might do both; or he might do neither and let your grade do all the talking.

Trouble is, no matter how detailed and incisive the feedback, by the time it gets back to you it's already too late -- and, in a way, too early. Too late because your paper has already been written, and what you really needed help with was its composition, with the micromechanics of style, with all the small decisions that led you to say whatever it is you said. And too early because even if the professor's ex post pointers make every bit of sense, a whole month might go by before you next get to use them.

This is not the way to develop a complicated skill."
email  writing  teaching  education  practice  feedback  composition  2011  jamesomers  dialogue  learning  kandersericsson  malcolmgladwell  dialog 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Some Dark Thoughts on Happiness -- New York Magazine
"I almost became a professional philosopher," Martin Seligman says. "I had a fellowship to Oxford. I turned it down."…

"My education was Wittgensteinian," he continues. I’d heard this about Seligman too—how fascinated he was by Ludwig Wittgenstein, a famous depressive who nevertheless told his landlady as he was dying, Tell them it’s been wonderful. Seligman’s interested in many famous depressives—Lincoln, Oppenheimer. He identifies himself as a depressive, too. "But in retrospect," he continues, "I think Wittgenstein suborned three generations of philosophy, including mine, by telling us that what we wanted to do was puzzles and that somehow by solving puzzles, problems would get solved. I spent 40 years struggling out of that mode."

Seligman spent almost as long struggling out of the mode of traditional psychology… It is Seligman’s contention that psychology’s emphasis on pathology has marginalized the study of well-being."
happiness  psychology  philosophy  culture  well-being  martinseligman  wittgenstein  positivepsychology  politics  2006  chrispeterson  danielgilbert  shanelopez  babyboomers  malcolmgladwell  georgewbush  pathology  talben-sahar  lottery  wealth  despair  depression  maximizers  satisficers  optimism  pessimism  boomers  self-help 
march 2011 by robertogreco
What is social information? « Snarkmarket
"Wallace has already signaled that this is going to be a paragraph about repetition to exhaustion or even injury before he even does it. You could say he needs to keep clarifying & repeating these things because his sentences are so convoluted that otherwise you couldn’t follow them, but 1) his syntax is pretty clear 2) it’s not like he’s a freak about specifying everything… But it’s also just Wallace — who understands all of this, by the way, better than we do: communication, information, redundancy, efficiency, purity, the dangers of too much information, and especially the fear of being alone and the need to find connection with other human beings — creating a structure that allows him to ping his reader, saying “I am here”… and waiting for his reader to respond in kind, “I’m alive right now; I’m a person; look at me.” 
timcarmody  snarkmarket  davidfosterwallace  infinitejest  language  solitude  loneliness  human  need  information  redundancy  efficiency  purity  clarity  communication  infooverload  connectedness  connection  freemandyson  malcolmgladwell  devinfriedman  ycombinator  dailybooth  expression  jamesgleick  congo  kele  languages  words  pinging  drums  2011  northafrica  revolution  revolutions  media  raymondcarver  history  cannon  signaling 
february 2011 by robertogreco
The Twitter Revolution Must Die
"My sarcasm is, of course, a thinly veiled attempt to point out how absurd it is to refer to events in Iran, Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere as the Twitter Revolution, the Facebook Revolution, and so on. What we call things, the names we use to identify them, has incredible symbolic power, and I, for one, refuse to associate corporate brands with struggles for human dignity."
twitter  facebook  politics  egypt  tunisia  ulisesmejias  ethanzuckerman  malcolmgladwell  clayshirky  corydoctorow  democracy  terminology  socialnetworking  2011  revolution 
january 2011 by robertogreco
kung fu grippe — The Cringing Point
"I grit my teeth when Gladwell makes a terrific observation, then staples on some random non sequitur of a case study to “prove it,” then lovingly attaches—as my friend T puts it—“some ridiculous bromide” about What It All Really Means.

What kills me is I agree w/ basically every brilliant observation he’s ever made. His instincts are stunningly sharp & zeitgeisty, & you simply can’t dispute his ability to synthesize totally random cultural datapoints. He thinks very very well…

Guy’s a million times more intelligent & successful then I’ll ever be. But I kind of hate how he’s seduced a generation of self-satisfied people w/ bachelor’s degrees into gorging on his horn-rimmed buffet of insouciantly bloggable cocktail party facts. It’s like meth malteds to thin-boned lads who worship at his probably large Canadian feet.

Smugness is such a hungry, hungry habit, friends, & everybody loves a big ole plate of contradictory. Or do they? Because a recent study shows surprising…."

[via and in response: http://tumblr.quisby.net/post/1204381782 ]
malcolmgladwell  writing  merlinmann 
september 2010 by robertogreco
How To Raise A Superstar [If true, this is huge endorsement of small, progressive schools where the emphasis is not on competition, but on exposure, experience, and unstructured time, where all students are given the chance to participate.]
"smaller cities offer more opportunities for unstructured play…to hone general coordination, power, & athletic skills. These longer hours of play also allow kids to experience successes (& failures) in different settings…likely toughens their attitudes in general…important advantage of small towns…actually less competitive…allowing kids to sample & explore many different sports. (I grew up in big city,…sports career basically ended at 13. I could no longer compete w/ other kids my age.) While conventional wisdom assumes it’s best to focus on single sport ASAP, & compete in most rigorous arena…probably a mistake, both for psychological & physical reasons…While deliberate practice remains absolutely crucial, it’s important to remember that most important skills we develop at early age are not domain specific…real importance of early childhood has to do w/ development of general cognitive & non-cognitive traits, such as self-control, patience, grit, & willingness to practice"
jonahlehrer  children  childhood  biology  learning  cognition  education  sports  psychology  practice  tigerwoods  performance  competition  urban  rural  tcsnmy  confidence  persistence  self-control  patience  grit  self-confidence  athletics  athletes  variety  toshare  topost  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  sampling  malcolmgladwell  burnout  specialization  generalists  coordination  success  failure  play  unstructuredtime  specialists 
august 2010 by robertogreco
WNYC - Radiolab » Secrets of Success
"Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t like Gifted and Talented Education Programs. And he doesn’t believe that innate ability can fully explain superstar hockey players or billionaire software giants. In this podcast, we listen in on a conversation between Robert and Malcolm recorded at the 92nd St Y. Robert asks Malcolm if he’s a “genius denier,” and Malcolm asks Robert if he’s uncomfortable with the power of love, as they duke it out over questions of luck, talent, passion, and success."
genius  luck  talent  passion  success  love  malcolmgladwell  science  radiolab  brain  desire  leadership  tcsnmy  toshare  topost  mattheweffect  circumstance  coincidence  billgates  advantage  generations  timing 
august 2010 by robertogreco
The Answer Sheet - Primer for ed reformers (or, it’s the curriculum, stupid!)
"*Learning, real learning—trying to make more sense of what’s happening—is as natural & satisfying as breathing. If your big reform idea requires laws, mandates, penalties, bribes, or other kinds of external pressure to make it work, it won’t. You can lead the horse to water, & you can force it to look like it’s drinking, but you can’t make it drink."

[via: http://stevemiranda.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/the-most-comprehensive-awesome-189-words-ever-written-about-school/ ]
curriculum  reform  criticalthinking  policy  education  learning  tcsnmy  progressive  standards  standardizedtesting  testing  rttt  nclb  motivation  elibroad  billgates  malcolmgladwell  wealth  influence  money  collaboration  understanding  humans  lcproject  deschooling  unschooling  teaching  commoncore  accountability  autonomy  righthererightnow  hereandnow  sensemaking  bighere  longnow  toshare  topost  interdisciplinary  marionbrady 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Derek Powazek - Why Everything Sucks, Why That’s Awesome, and How It’s Changing Us
"I think this is beautiful. People are out there, trying new things, learning the hard way, and sharing their experience. That gives me hope.
derekpowazek  education  internet  learning  teaching  outliers  malcolmgladwell  practice  amateur  online  lcproject 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Undercapitalized « Snarkmarket
"But if you use Haque’s new-economy and Scheiber’s old-economy cri­tiques of cur­rent prac­tices, you get some­thing very pow­er­ful. The pre-managerial, heroic-age-of-capitalism indus­tri­al­ists of the 19th and early 20th cen­turies didn’t always build things that were good, from our per­spec­tive — but they BUILT things, cre­at­ing real cap­i­tal and value along the way, coalsmoke aside. It’s this fifty-year-blip of late uncre­ative cap­i­tal­ism, milk­ing old prop­erty for its dregs, reshuf­fling money to cre­ate some­thing from noth­ing, that has cul­tur­ally really screwed us up."
us  economics  gamechanging  leadership  management  organizations  administration  timcarmody  snarkmarket  umairhaque  manufacturing  middlemanagement  comments  healthcare  2009  finance  compensation  noamscheiber  malcolmgladwell  billsimmons 
december 2009 by robertogreco
russell davies: true stories told live
"Gladwell suggests people w/ the best stories are those whose jobs involve lots of sitting around w/ their colleagues; cricketers, for instance, or pilots. I'd suggest it's not just the sitting around, it's sitting around while half paying attention to something else (the match, automatic pilot). This leaves enough room for proper story-telling, for holding court, not interrupted by sniping, conversation or one-up-person-ship...I'm still not sure that story is that important to stories. You know, all that beginning, middle, end stuff, narrative arc...Games people go on about it all the time, ad people are convinced they're masters of story miniatures. I think, very often, story is just something to hang all the important bits on. & not in a significant, meaningful way, like a backbone or scaffold...more of a coat-hanger. The actual stuff that connects isn't about plot or narrative; it's texture, observations, images, jokes, juxtapositions, felicitous phrases & little moments of aha."
communication  storytelling  stories  malcolmgladwell  russelldavies  narrative  listening  attention  entertainment  games  gamedesign  delivery 
november 2009 by robertogreco
While you were sleeping, from Berlin (Scripting News)
"I predict a return to blogging as people discover the power of being able to finish a thought, and to link to another site without going through an intermediary. Once again people will discover the power of Small Pieces, Loosely Joined." AND "When you think of news as a business, except in very unusual circumstances, the sources never got paid. So the news was always free, it was the reporting of it that cost. [...] The Internet always disintermediates. Did you see the "media" in the middle of that word? It's the middle that's hurt in the new world. Sorry. The new world pays the source, indirectly, and obviates the middleman."
blogging  davewiner  malcolmgladwell  chrisanderson  news  free  thinking  slow  davidweinberger  smallpieceslooselyjoined  journalism  newmedia  reporting  disintermediation  economics  middlemen 
june 2009 by robertogreco
edublogs: Ken Robinson's The Element: reincarnating creativity
"Schools are built for, and in the image of, the industrial revolution ... Creativity and standardised testing can't share the same bed ... The death of entrepreneurship ... What is it that needs to change? Clue: It isn't curriculum or assessment ... Fundamental change through Brains Trusts ... Making sure that our current and future students in schools and higher education establishments are capable of entrepreneurship in many areas of their lives, of coming up with solutions that marry new technology (bringing with it new possibilities we could not have before thought through) with strong understanding of design to tackle issues that really matter is the number one task to ensure that they can fully participate as citizens. Simply providing access to part of that equation is not enough: broadband for all without understanding for all, community without happenstance on a global scale, a child's creativity without understanding of the potential technology brings."
education  kenrobinson  learning  entrepreneurship  tcsnmy  curiosity  passion  self-directedlearning  schools  deschooling  schooling  unschooling  creativity  change  reform  learning2.0  outliers  malcolmgladwell  online  internet  gamechanging  ewanmcintosh  testing  assessment  nclb  scotland  us  teaching  children 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Malcolm Gladwell on meaningful work and curiosity - (37signals)
"Gladwell: Meaningful work is one of the most important things we can impart to children. Meaningful work is work that is autonomous. Work that is complex, that occupies your mind. And work where there is a relationship between effort and reward — for everything you put in, you get something out…
malcolmgladwell  charlierose  37signals  collaboration  leadership  management  administration  mission  meaning  life  work  cv  teaching  parenting  autonomy  mind  effort  reward  curiosity 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Annals of Education: Most Likely to Succeed: How do we hire when we can’t tell who’s right for the job?:The New Yorker
"Hanushek recently did a back-of-the-envelope calculation about what even a rudimentary focus on teacher quality could mean for the United States. If you rank the countries of the world in terms of the academic performance of their schoolchildren, the U.S. is just below average, half a standard deviation below a clump of relatively high-performing countries like Canada and Belgium. According to Hanushek, the U.S. could close that gap simply by replacing the bottom six per cent to ten per cent of public-school teachers with teachers of average quality. After years of worrying about issues like school funding levels, class size, and curriculum design, many reformers have come to the conclusion that nothing matters more than finding people with the potential to be great teachers. But there’s a hitch: no one knows what a person with the potential to be a great teacher looks like." Also on Gladwell's blog:

[http://gladwell.typepad.com/gladwellcom/2008/12/teachers-and-quarterbacks.html ]

[see comments here: http://www.boingboing.net/2008/12/08/malcolm-gladwell-on.html ]
malcolmgladwell  teaching  school  policy  assessment  newyorker  education  statistics  learning  psychology  research  hiring  management  administration  leadership  us  effectiveness  credentials  economics  children  schools 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Daring Fireball Linked List: Sitzfleisch
"Tying together yesterday’s link to Brent Simmons’s advice for would-be indie developers (“You need to wear out that chair and then buy a new one and then wear out that one”) and the previous link to Malcolm Gladwell’s conclusion that it is perseverance and above all else extraordinary amounts of practice that separates the great from the not-great, is the wonderful German word sitzfleisch: The ability to endure or carry on with an activity."
perseverance  johngruber  coding  malcolmgladwell  greatness  success  tcsnmy  depth  endurance  german  words  language  depthoverbreadth 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Why Malcolm Gladwell Thinks We Have Little Control Over Our Own Success -- New York Magazine
"Malcolm Gladwell’s elegant and wildly popular theories about modern life have turned his name into an adjective—Gladwellian! But in his new book, he seeks to undercut the cult of success, including his own, by explaining how little control we have over it." ...“The basic vision says how we fare in life isn’t just determined by ourselves and our character, it’s determined by a lot of other things that are beyond our control.” ... "“For its poorest students, America doesn’t have a school problem,” Gladwell concludes. “It has a summer-vacation problem.” So how to close the gap between rich and poor students? Get rid of summer vacation in inner-city schools." ...“It’s a book that’s very much about collective and social organized change."
success  luck  malcolmgladwell  politics  culture  economics  books  psychology  sociology  outliers 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Annals of Culture: Late Bloomers: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker
"Late bloomers’ stories are invariably love stories, and this may be why we have such difficulty with them. We’d like to think that mundane matters like loyalty, steadfastness, and the willingness to keep writing checks to support what looks like failure have nothing to do with something as rarefied as genius. But sometimes genius is anything but rarefied; sometimes it’s just the thing that emerges after twenty years of working at your kitchen table."

[more at: http://www.kottke.org/08/10/gladwell-on-early-and-lateblooming-geniuses ]
malcolmgladwell  genius  art  creativity  work  success  relationships  writers  writing  culture  history  publishing  books  psychology  education  life  age  latebloomers  cezanne 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Old Masters and Young Geniuses by David Galenson
"main idea is...Instead of people being super creative when they're young and getting less so with age...Galenson says artists fall into two general categories: 1) The conceptual innovators who peak creatively early in life. They have firm ideas about what they want to accomplish and then do so, with certainty. Pablo Picasso is the archetype here; others include T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Orson Wells... 2) The experimental innovators who peak later in life. They create through the painstaking process of doing, making incremental improvements to their art until they're capable of real masterpiece. Cezanne is Galenson's main example of an experimental innovator; others include Frank Lloyd Wright, Mark Twain, and Jackson Pollock. Cezanne remarked, "I seek in painting."
learning  creativity  craft  art  malcolmgladwell  kottke  psychology  process  genius  personality  innovation  artists  theory  davidgalenson  jacksonpollock 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Annals of Innovation: In the Air: Who says big ideas are rare? - The New Yorker
"Merton’s observation about scientific geniuses is clearly not true of artistic geniuses, however. You can’t pool the talents of a dozen Salieris and get Mozart’s Requiem. You can’t put together a committee of really talented art students and get
malcolmgladwell  ideas  innovation  creativity  technology  entrepreneurship  economics  discovery  culture  intelligence  genius  adaptive  thinking  science  invention  mind  brainstorming  history  art  patents  ip  paleontology  dinosaurs  design  process 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Gladwell on the mismatch problem (kottke.org)
"Gladwell says that while we evaluate teachers on the basis of high standardized test scores and whether they have degrees and credentialed training, that makes little difference in how well people actually teach."
assessment  hiring  management  jobs  careers  leadership  administration  schools  teaching  learning  credentials  work  gamechanging  kottke  malcolmgladwell 
may 2008 by robertogreco
The Worst Book of the 21st Century - a review - Education Blog
"As I attend my 2nd conference in 2 weeks where keynote speaker is Daniel Pink, I feel duty bound to share my thoughts on why his popular pop-business book, "A Whole New Mind," may be the worst book of the 21st Century."
books  education  leadership  learning  danielpink  thomasfriedman  malcolmgladwell 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Is the Tipping Point Toast? -- Duncan Watts -- Trendsetting
"Marketers spend a billion dollars a year targeting influentials. Duncan Watts says they're wasting their money."
socialnetworking  networks  tippingpoint  malcolmgladwell  advertising  marketing  trends  viral  money  waste  revisit  socialmedia  economics  culture  sociology  clivethompson 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Neil Gaiman - Neil Gaiman's Journal: Changing planes.
"Cory is one of the Explainers. The people who see what's going on, or what they perceive to be going on, and then turn around and tell everyone else, and once you've heard it their way you can't ever see it the old way again."
corydoctorow  fiction  sciencefiction  scifi  books  neilgaiman  liberty  freedom  writing  reviews  malcolmgladwell  music  williamgibson  brucesterling  douglasadams 
december 2007 by robertogreco
Your first 10,000 Blog Posts are Always the Worst
“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” Henri Cartier-Bresson; see also Malcolm Gladwell talk where he speaks about time it takes to become an expert...http://www.newyorker.com/online/video/conference/2007/gladwell
malcolmgladwell  photography  blogging  writing  training 
november 2007 by robertogreco
gladwell.com: Kenyan Runners
"Imagine that every year 50 % of all American 10 year old boys were shipped to Boulder CO, where they ran 50-70 miles/week at altitude for the next 7 years. Would the US regain control of international middle and long distance running?"
running  kenya  sports  malcolmgladwell  statistics  competition 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Genius: 2012: Online Only Video: The New Yorker
"Malcolm Gladwell talks about the importance of stubbornness and collaboration in problem-solving, and how long it takes to master any challenge. Introduced by David Remnick."
malcolmgladwell  intelligence  genius  behavior  experts  expertise  learning  collaboration  newyorker  productivity  problemsolving  colleges  universities  future 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Yanking (the Chains of) the Ivies - Chronicle.com
"Ms. Robbins thinks the mystique of the Ivy League is starting to wear thin — even though, as she acknowledges, it's harder than ever to get into those colleges. "Other schools have caught up and surpassed the Ivy League," she says."
academia  education  malcolmgladwell  universities  colleges  ivies  elitism  trends 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Cognitive Edge: Gladwell and the use of rhetoric
"I have been concerned for some time about a style of writing that (i) ignores or over simplifies the literature and (ii) argues by selective use of anecdote rather than reason."
malcolmgladwell  writing  rhetoric  creativity  originality  research  journalism  publishing  books  society  reading 
march 2007 by robertogreco
070304A Plagiarism (Intellectual Property)
Interviews with Jonathan Lethem (Harper Magazine - "The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism"), Paul D. Miller, Richard Posner and Malcolm Gladwell
malcolmgladwell  djspooky  plagiarism  media  culture  copyright  property  audio  radio  paulmiller 
march 2007 by robertogreco
gladwell dot com - designs for working
"Innovation comes from the interactions of people at a comfortable distance from one another, neither too close nor too far. This is why--quite apart from the matter of logistics and efficiency--companies have offices to begin with."
architecture  design  space  people  work  organizations  bigidea  collaborative  collaboration  ideas  innovation  schooldesign  tbwachiatday  janejacobs  cities  interaction  social  interdisciplinary  malcolmgladwell 
february 2007 by robertogreco
gladwell dot com - the talent myth
"In terms of how we evaluate schooling, everything is about working by yourself. If you work with someone else, it's called cheating. Once you get out in the real world, everything you do involves working with other people."
business  essays  management  productivity  social  people  schools  organizations  collaborative  collaboration  bigidea  design  malcolmgladwell  innovation  ideas 
february 2007 by robertogreco
National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) - Independent School Magazine
"Schools as Connectors: Combatting the Social Isolation of Children" by Malcolm Gladwell
learning  education  technology  society  malcolmgladwell 
january 2005 by robertogreco
gladwell dot com-- Designs for Working
"Why your bosses want to turn your new office into Greenwich Village."
design  society  learning  work  schooldesign  malcolmgladwell 
january 2005 by robertogreco

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