Blog Archive

Thursday, April 28, 2016

I came across this article through Dan John's Wandering Weights email. The article is interesting, and has some good ideas in it, as I might expect, but one paragraph annoyed me.

“Let’s be honest. Who did not work this way in school? Why should I read the whole book if there’s a summary version which tells me everything I need to know? Reading the whole book would be nothing but a waste of time. Time that’s better spend (sic) with your friends. Sound familiar?”


(A better man than I would ignore the fact that someone who just bragged about not reading carefully also published an article with a typo. I am not a better man.)

As a card-carrying bibliophile, the notion that "Reading the whole book would be nothing but a waste of time." offends me.

As an educator who spent a small amount of time teaching literature, the notion that you can learn all you need to know from a summary is wrong.

Summaries skip details. Sometimes critical details. It gives you an interpretation that may or may not hold up to any kind of scrutiny (as a professor of mine once observed, Cliff took some pretty bad notes). It spoon feeds you some kind of hackneyed interpretation of what's important in the book, removing any requirements for you to actually read, engage, and think.

If you're not interested in thinking, don't bother reading the book in the first place.

This touches on a trend which has bugged the crap out of me for a while now: this idiotic notion of "hacking" every damn thing  under the sun.

I'm sick of hacking. Hacking is stupid.

"Hacking" for anyone not following at home, is this stupid idea that has pervaded our culture that there is some secret method whereby you can do LESS, yet somehow become just as good as someone who does more. That you can do 20% of the work, get 80% of the results, and that is somehow good enough.

Guess what? 80% of the results isn't terribly fucking impressive. An 80% in school gets you a B-. Being in the 80th percentile in an athletic competition means you LOST.

There is no secret. There is no shortcut. There is no fucking hack.

"But I don't have time to train like a world champion."

Yeah, I don't either. Guess what? I'm not a world champion, and I'm not going to be. I don't lose any sleep over it.

"But we should work on being efficient."

Yeah, yeah we should. I'm all good with efficiency. I've got a wife, two kids, a dog, and I'm self-employed. It's not like I'm spending all my time hanging out in the gym.

But I am not deluding myself that what I am doing is somehow close to what a serious athlete does either.

Cheating is not being efficient. It's cheating. Reading a summary of the book is not the same as reading the book. Doing 20% of the work is not the same as doing 100% of the work.

Read the damn book.

No comments: