Summary of June 2019

QnD Reading

  1. The changing structure of American innovation: Some cautionary remarks for economic growth: Arora, Belenzon, Patacconi, Suh

Articles

  1. The radical plan to change how Harvard teaches economics (5/5)
  2. What Alan Krueger taught the world about the minimum wage, education, and inequality-(4/5)
  3. Stephen Marglin– The only radical economist at Harvard
  4. Mexico is not a poor country-(2/5)
  5. Japan begins experiment of opening to immigration (3/5)

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Easy distinction

I quickly came to understand that there are two types of people in this world: There are the type of people who are going to live up to what they said they were going to do yesterday, and then there are people who are full of shit. And that’s all you really need to know

Anthony Bourdain

QnD Reading Strategy

A while ago, I posted about Tian Zheng’s approach to digesting scientific papers. Her method focused on first identifying the relevance of a scientific work to your research interests. Hence, it involves reading the abstract and introduction first. If the work is still compelling, the reader is encouraged to peruse the main results. Here I will talk about a somewhat different approach with a different set of goals.

The Quick and Dirty reading strategy is derived from the experiments of Ji Soo Yi [1]. The idea is to be able to trawl through vast amounts of scientific literature over a short period of time. His experiments with students involved reading a 100 papers a week on human computer interaction. However, the average time taken by the students to complete the exercise was only around 6.76 hours. That’s nearly 4 minutes per paper! There are good reasons for designing and testing the effectiveness of such a skim reading strategy. Dr. Yi mentions at least the following

  • The pace with which new publications appear in any given field makes it really hard to stay on top of the latest developments. It is imperative to be able to keep track of the steady stream of papers
  • It is not worth the while to spend the same amount of energy, time and focus on all papers. That is, even within your own field of interest, not all papers are created equal as far as their utility to your interests are concerned. There needs to be a good strategy to select the right papers to focus the effort on from the several thousand Journal and conference articles appearing each month.
  • It is useful to have a wide perspective on your own field – Breadth of knowledge is an end in itself.
  • Frequent exposure to disparate methods of thinking and problem solving can aid ones own research.

The QnD strategy can be roughly broken down as follows

  1. Read the Abstract carefully
  2. First paragraph of introduction may be worth looking at
  3. Quickly go through section headings
  4. Focus on figures and graphs to infer the content of sections
  5. Move on to conclusions.
  6. Systematically think about the contributions of the paper and write a succinct summary in few sentences

It is important to follow the last step-i.e. summarizing the thoughts about the paper in your own words in a few sentences so that you take the easy way out to the next paper or deceive yourself. This record will also serve as important data point when reviewing the results of QnD reading. Interestingly, there are now scientific papers devoted to redesigning the document readers for a better skim reading experience aimed at better content retention and understanding. The following paper for example focuses on how to use static overlays of images and texts while the pages are scrolled over for better comprehension [2]. Of course, I read this work the QnD way !

  1. QnD Review: Read 100 CHI papers in 7 hours-Ji Soon Yi (available online at https://cs582-17s.github.io/papers/yi2014qndreview.pdf. Last accessed on 05/21/2019)
  2. Spotlights: Attention-optimised highlights for skim reading-Byungjoo Lee, Olli Savisaari, Antti Oulasvirta,SIGCHI Conf. Human Factors Comput. Syst., Santa Clara, CA, USA, May 7–12, 2016, pp.5203– 5214.

The Genius of the Crowd

There is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

Charles Bukowski