Category Archives: Everything

Expertise vs. visibility of expertise

Anyone with expertise in any job always has a tendency to assume other people’s jobs are trivial. For example, I think that managing a programming project is pretty easy compared with the actual programming; but I bet if you asked a project manager, they’d tell you the opposite.

dilbert_comic1

I think this is a universal tendency. We look at anything — carpentry, marketing, baking, merchant banking — and think “Well, that looks easy. It’s just a matter of having the right tools/bluffing/learning some recipes/knowing the right people”. That’s because we don’t see the complexity that people who understand the field do see. It’s related to our old friend the Dunning-Kruger effect and I think it’s a big part of why the people of this country have had enough of experts: because they simply don’t recognise expertise.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Oppose SOPA, PIPA and the RWA

Today is a big day for the Internet.  Nearly everyone reading this site will be aware of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), two appallingly ill-conceived pieces of legislation under consideration in the US but with profound ramifications for the whole world.  Written at the behest of big copyright holders by people with no understanding of how the Internet works either mechanically or culturally, they would be absolutely disastrous if passed.

In response to this, many high-profile web-sites are demonstrating the results such laws would have by going dark for the day.  They include Reddit and, most importantly, Wikipedia.  (Also, the entire Cheezburger network and many, many others.)  We can only hope that this distributed demonstration results not just in SOPA and PIPA being rejected, but in an emphatic smackdown that makes it impossible for similarly dumb legislation to get mind-space in the future.

But there is another threat also making its way through the US Congress — less publicised but also hugely important.

Continue reading

A quest fulfilled

A quick note to say that tonight I fulfilled an ambition that I’ve had for a year or so.  Back in the old post Let’s Do Everything, I mentioned that “Tonight, Fiona played in a local folk club, and it made me realise that I’d like to do that, too.”  This evening was a Singers’ Night at the Forest Folk Club, which is less than ten miles away from where we live.  So I took along my guitar, and played and sang four songs to a smallish but appreciative audience — about 25 people.  Either they were all being very generous in their response, or it went pretty well.

For anyone who cares, the four songs were Richard Shindell’s The Next Best Western; We Learned the Sea and February (both originally by Dar Williams); and the Beatles classic Here, There and Everywhere.

I plan to do it again at the next Singers’ Night in a fortnight, but I will have to get four new songs up to scratch by then!

Let’s do everything!

“Let’s do everything!”

I found those three words spilling unbidden from my mouth the other day when I was talking to my wife, Fiona, and realised that I’d inadvertently summarised my life.  It’s my blessing and my curse.  I want to do it all.

Continue reading