Posts Tagged ‘Knowledge’

What is the meaning of life?

February 2, 2018

What is the meaning of life? I think people ask that question out of the assumption that meaning is something you can look for, “Oh I found it. Here’s the meaning. Here’s what it is. Here’s what I’ve been looking for.” But that doesn’t consider the possibility that, maybe, meaning of life is something that you create, you manufacture for yourself and for others. When I think of meaning in life, I ask, “Have I learned something today that I didn’t know yesterday?” Bringing me a little closer to knowing all that can be known in the Universe. Just a little closer. However far away all the knowledge sits, I am a little closer. If I live a day and I don’t know a little more that day than the day before, then I think I wasted that day.

— Neil deGrasse Tyson (6:53)

I no longer feel the need to know everything

December 27, 2017

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a bit wiser. One thing that I am very pleased with is that I no longer feel that I must be an expert at everything. I’m okay with releasing control and letting others who have the expertise tell me how to do something. I will contribute my limited knowledge and expertise.  Perhaps working together, we can create great things.

Much of our knowledge is pseudo-knowledge

November 26, 2016

A child points at a plant and asks “Daddy, what is that?” The father replies “It’s a rose.”

Does the child now know what the plant is? No. “rose” is just a word, a sound. It is a label that we humans have invented. That word/sound/label says nothing about the plant. The plant is still very much a mystery to the child (and to the father).

The child asks his father “How do birds know where to fly south in the Autumn?” The father replies “Instinct.”

Again, “instinct” is just a word, a sound, a label. The ability of birds to know where to fly is still very much a mystery.

Much of our knowledge is pseudo-knowledge (fake, false, pretend).

Here’s a slightly different way to put it: Everything is vague to a degree you do not realize till you have tried to make it precise. (Bertrand Russell)

Transitioning from a grab for knowledge to reflecting on knowledge

July 25, 2016

For many years a was in a sort of land grab. But it wasn’t land that I was gobbling up, it was knowledge. I wanted to have as many check-marks on my resume as possible: I’ve mastered this, this, and this.

Recently there has been a shift. I no longer feel the need to gobble up knowledge. Time to slow down and smell the flowers. It’s time to reflect on what I’ve learned. I want to sit in awe of the big ideas, I want to be immersed in their profundity. I want to see how it all fits together.

I am transitioning from technology to philosophy. I think it’s a good progression.

Imperfect with imperfect knowledge

March 2, 2016

Today someone asked me about an issue and if I thought it should be addressed. I responded:

I don’t think so, but I am often wrong.

I think that is a good way to respond, admitting that I am imperfect with imperfect knowledge. I’ll respond this way more often.

Three steps to mastering a topic

February 21, 2015

1. Read: read a book on the topic. Not any book. Read a book written by someone who is an expert on the topic and has a genuine gift for explaining things clearly.

2. Implement: write software that implements the topic you are learning, or solve a bunch of problems relevant to the topic, or write a paper on the topic.

3. Teach: create a bunch of Powerpoint slides along with a bunch of lab exercises and then go share your knowledge with some people.

A better repository of knowledge: Stack Overflow or Wikipedia?

February 6, 2015

Personally, I find that I increasingly get my information from Stack Overflow.

I can’t think of the last time that I visited Wikipedia; it’s probably been a couple of years.

For me Stack Overflow is a richer, more vibrant and useful repository of knowledge.

Wikipedia is an on-line version of an encyclopedia. Perhaps the encyclopedia paradigm is dead?


Have a “beginner’s mind”

December 27, 2014

Trouble begins when one thinks that he or she has all the answers.

Be humble.

Nobody knows everything.

“I’m not young enough to know everything.” (Oscar Wilde)

Approach the things you do as though you are still a beginner and have a long way to go.

Bring your passion with you in whatever you do

March 30, 2014

Here are two beautiful Greek words that I learned watching the wonderful TED talk by Mike Rowe (the person who created the TV show, Dirty Jobs):

anagnorsis: the transition from ignorance to knowledge.

When a veil is lifted off your eyes and you suddenly realize that some aspect of what you had been thinking your whole life is totally wrong and you suddenly see the truth, that is anagnorsis.

peripetia: a discovery that leads to a sudden realization.

In the movie The Matrix the main character Neil suddenly realizes that he is living in a computer, that is peripetia.

In the movie The Sixth Sense, Bruce Willis spends the whole movie helping a small child and then at the end Willis suddenly realizes that he is dead, that is peripetia.

Here’s a paraphrase of something that Mike Rowe said, which I think is great:

From our childhood we are told: “follow
your passion and if you do that, everything
will turn out and be great.” I realized (anagnorsis)
that that is wrong. These people that I worked
alongside on Dirty Jobs aren’t following their
passion; yet, they are some of the most balanced
and happy people I’ve met. Instead of following
your passion, bring your passion with you in
whatever you do.

Pure knowledge – no agenda

November 17, 2013

I am reading a book. It has no extraneous words. There are no jokes in it. No lively dialogue. And definitely no agenda or marketing. The book’s purpose is simply to convey a body of knowledge. It is challenging to read. I have to think deeply about every sentence. I am crawling through it at a snail’s pace. But I have come to realize that there is a great beauty in this book and this gradual learning process. And it is refreshing to get away from the incessant marketing machine of our society. Everyone has an agenda. Everyone is selling their product, their point of view. Enough! It is time to bask in pure knowledge.