Weekly Review, 2021-01-24

Welcome to another weekly review!

This week, I decided I'm scrapping a public review of 2020 and skipped straight to my 2021 goals. I also found a cool article that explores how information passes around networks, reflected on our collective future of being endless newbies, and more.

Table of Contents

2021 Goals

A few weeks ago I claimed I was going to do a review of 2020. And I did one - a personal one. It turned into a big, ugly mess that only makes sense to me. It would take much more work than I'm willing to clean it up for other peoples' eyes. Maybe next year I'll have more motivation for a deeper reflection. For now, it'll have to wait.

However, I am sharing my 2021 goals this week. 2021 will stand on 3 pillars

My writing goals are based around sustaining consistent online engagement.

Engineering-wise, 2020 was a big year for technical ability. In 2021, I need to focus on my communication skills.

Lastly, I am going to ride [[MTB]] a lot this year. Training-wise, I will follow a philosophy described in [[Skills beat Fitness]].

For more on all of these goals, check out their page! [[2021 Goals]]

[[Why The World Has Gone Crazy]]

This article packs a punch. [[Alex Lamb]] makes an argument for a wealth cap based on network science. It starts with an unintuitive hunch and ends with a rational argument for an issue that is usually supported for moral, feel good reasons. I really enjoyed reading this. For more detailed notes, check out my page: [[Why The World Has Gone Crazy]]. The original article is here.

Why aren't we Integrating?

This week I started reading [[Link - The Book]]. It's about [[Decision Intelligence]], which is an integrated decision making framework that incorporates many fields. Early on, the author mentions the need to combine knowledge between specialist fields. This reminded me of a quote from [[Moksha]], by [[Huxley]]:

  • "We are up against, of course, the great problem of specialization... [My grandfather] did a great deal to make the University of London into a really modern university, with specialist departments in all fields. He realized you had to have specialization to explore the depths of scientific knowledge. But the interesting thing is that twenty years later.... he was deeply concerned with undoing the effects of specialization. He wanted to get the professors out of their pigeon holes, to meet together in a concerted effort to pool their specialized knowledge and to bring it out into the world. And after nearly 70 years, this remains one of our enormous problems. How to make the best of both worlds: the world of specialization, which is absolutely necessary, and the world of general communication and interest in the larger affairs of life, which is also necessary." (164).

In Link, the author similarly states

  • "Since the Renaissance, civilization has developed a cornucopia of specialist disciplines. Today, we have reached a moment in time where we are challenged to reconnect them to solve the hardest problems facing the human race" (65)

Contrary to the quote from Link, we haven't just reached that moment today. Huxley gave that talk in the 50's. And his grandfather began worry about specialization in the 30's. This isn't a new problem. In fact, it seems to be quite an old problem that has been ignored.

The question is, why have we ignored the need to integrate the knowledge of specialists and make it more accessible for at least 90 years?

[[Endless Newbie]]

This week, the [[Data Elixir]] newsletter included an update on the Julia programming language.

The article itself is really good. Julia looks like a language with a promising future. It also threw me into a mini reflection on the state of my engineering skills.

Previously, I worked at a company with a lot of legacy code in perl. From what I know, perl was hot shit back in the day. A lot of really great software was built with it. However, by the time I made it to the scene, the community had largely moved on - except for a couple stubborn ol' engineers at this company. In the late 2010's, they wanted to start new projects in perl. Perl's day had came and went, and these engineers weren't ready to move on. It was a great lesson.

In [[The Inevitable]], [[Kevin Kelly]] writes "Endless Newbie is the new default for everyone, no matter your age or experience." This is a harsh reality, especially for well established engineers. Part of the reward of a long engineering career is becoming an expert (well, I imagine).

Unfortunately, with the current progression of tech, that will no longer be the case. We are all going to need to learn new technologies all the time, whether we are regular consumers or engineers.

All of this relates back to the Julia update because of those stubbon ol' engineers have left me on a mission to never unnecessarily resist better technology. No matter how much I love python, there will be a time in the future, probably not far from now, when it will be best to move on. I, along with everyone else, need to embrace the inevitable future of endless newbiedom.


[[Venkatesh Rao]] had it out for me with this newsletter, I just wish it would have found me sooner.

Final Thoughts

I've had a lot of fun creating this weekly review. It was another week where it felt like I pushed a lot of notes out into The Jungle. However, I can't shake the feeling that everything I shared this week had a lot of potential to be better. In the next few weeks, I may experiment with spending more time on less notes. On the other hand, higher quantity might be more fun. Either way, I'll be back wiht more next week.

By then, I should have some cool network visualizations to share, inspired by ideas and code from [[Why The World Has Gone Crazy]].

In the mean time, have a great week!

My Linked Notes

One last thing

If you liked these notes, hit me on Twitter!