Disaggregation, Black holes, and High-variable environments
Two weeks ago I shared my proud dad moment about my son—who’s only 5 and a half—reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone all by himself.
This week he finished reading it, all 309 pages.
Before spending sometime in careful and un-biased reflection on the experience, I quickly sent off 100 gushing texts to friends and family bragging sharing this happy occasion.
When I finally did sit down and think about it, I realized something: this isn’t all that special.
We like to throw terms around like smart or genius to describe people who seem to know it all.
I don’t like those terms.
Yes, I do believe we all possess different levels of mental “capacity,” however, what I don’t subscribe to is the notion that there are people who can’t learn.
Exposure and confidence.
That’s all it took for my son to read.
At an early age, 4 I believe, I started showing him flashcards of simple words—the, a, he, me, you know the drill.
We’d do these everyday until he recognized more and more words, growing his confidence as he did so.
Slowly we added more flashcards to the mix until he knew by heart all 98 cards (front and back).
Next we exposed him to simple books, showing how the words he worked hard to learn could tell a story when put into sequence.
Sentences became paragraphs, paragraphs became pages, pages became chapters.
Which brings me back to this week, when my son closed a book—a book I first read when I was 11—and exclaimed, “I finished the book!”
Exposure and confidence.
The more exposure you experience, the more confidence you gain. The more confidence you gain, the more exposure you can experience.
It’s the learning loop.
I’m only just beginning to unpack these ideas. Expect more in the near future.
Speaking of exposure, here are somethings to jumpstart your learning loop this week.
Let’s get learning.
I learned a new word this week: disaggregation.
It means “A division or breaking up into constituent parts, particularly the analytic disassembly of categories which have been aggregated or lumped together,” according to Wikipedia.
I stumbled across this word while reading The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman.
In it, Friedman argues that the digital age has brought about a disaggregation of traditional media.
People don’t read magazines anymore, they just read articles, picking and choosing, mixing and matching.
Magazines used to aggregate the work of many writers and editors, making the venture less risky—and sometimes more profitable—for everyone involved.
Now traditional media is struggling. Writers can’t seem to stand out. Brands are desperately trying to stay relevant (or at the very least trying to convince their subscribers they’re still relevant).
It’s a mess.
The same is happening in newspaper and television.
We thought the internet would bring about greater decision making power to the consumer, instead it’s given us a jumbled mess of unbundled click-bait.
I for one was a big advocate of cutting cable for the more sexy option of streaming what I want, when I want.
Now I’m wondering if some things work better together than apart.
What do you think?
Is it safe to jump into a black hole?
Due to some very specialized math, scientists have calculated that humans could pass a black hole’s event horizon—or the threshold of no escape—without being stretched out into razor thin strands.
A process aptly called spaghettification.
Of course, in doing so you’d eventually be crushed at an infinitesimally small point where the laws of physics no longer apply (aka you dead) and you wouldn’t be able to relay any information back to other humans on the other side of the event horizon.
So why bring any of this up?
To remind you that the universe still holds many mysteries, black holes being one.
I saw a tweet the other day that went something like this:“You are responsible for your happiness, health, and wealth.”
On the outside, this tweet makes sense. We are, after all, the final arbitrators of how we think, what we eat, and how we spend our money.
After reading Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning—the autobiographical tale of his survival in German concentration camps—I was even more reminded of man’s ability to choose his attitude no matter the circumstance.
But this tweet…
This tweet didn’t sit right with me. Maybe it was over generalization of it. Maybe it was the implication that if you aren’t happy, healthy, or financially well off that it’s your fault.
We live in high-variable environments. Sure, we’ve eliminated the majority of immediate threats such as malaria, small pox, and bears, but modern day still presents a plethora of attacks.
I’m talking about attacks on our attention, time, health, privacy, reputation, and relationships. Whether we realize it or not, we come into this world with strings attached and there are people (and algorithms) that have gotten very good at pulling these strings.
So, what do you think?
Are we responsible for our happiness, health, and wealth? Or is there more to it?
Thank you again for another week of letting me bombard your inbox with a hodgepodge of learnings.
If you ever come across anything interesting, please feel free to send them my way. My inbox is always open.
Until next week, Declan
P.S. – Since yesterday was Valentine’s Day I sort of wrote a love letter about my wife and children (more specifically, about the messes they make).