Friday Links 08-12-26

From the Web

Why it’s Hard to Find Your Passion – The culprit?  The formal education system, at least according to Ben Casnocha.  In a great entry, Ben argues why academia often subtly teaches kids the wrong lessons in life (it’s better to be a jack-of-all-trades than a savant, following the rules = success).  I think the problem is too complex to have one cause, but Ben’s argument definitely helped me think.

The Art of Radical Exclusion (Or How to Say No) – Another great entry by Chris Guillebeau about the importance of eliminating commitments that aren’t centered on your goals.  This is something I’m having to manage more.  I’ve found the more successes I experience, the more opportunities people offer me, and as a result, the more I need to turn down.

From the Archives

Myth: Organization is the Key to Productivity – “The problem with commonsense is that it isn’t that common. I’ve read a lot of books on productivity and time management and they all seem to espouse the same basic idea. The false idea that the reason you aren’t productive is because you simply aren’t organizing, prioritizing and using your time efficiently.”

From the Shelf

Everything Bad is Good for You – Pop culture is making us stupider as mass media increasingly becomes a search for the simplest, most sensational way to entertain us, right?

Wrong, according to Steven Johnson.  Instead, Johnson argues in this book that pop culture has actually been making us smarter.  Video games have been training our brain with increasingly complex challenges.  Television shows have become more nuanced and complex.  Technological shifts have bumped up our collective IQs.

I agree with Johnson that much of the criticism towards new media is on shaky ground.  Every new media faces criticism before it is accepted.  But at the same time, I can’t see how watching reruns of Jerry Springer will be too enlightening.

  • Havana

    Hahaha, when I was in my senior year of high school, I watched Jerry Springfield to motivate me to keep working in school. LOL I hope this doesn’t make me sound stuck-up or anything but I was terrified to end up like them. There was one episode where a woman (a mother, even) left her *college-educated*, rational-minded, generous husband for a delivery boy because he could beat the former up. 😛 Some people, I swear …

    But I’m going to read that last article; I’ve never heard such an argument, though I have noticed that in my friends who DO play first-person shooters on the regular, they seem to have faster reflexes, physically and mentally.

  • J.D. Meier

    Finding your passion can be tough. There’s so many herrings.

    One technique I found effective is to just pay attention for the day to what makes you stronger and what makes you weaker. Do that for the week. Where your strengths are, passion often follows.

    The other key is experimenting with other areas. I see people settle into ruts when what they need is to enjoy the process of learning new things. I think of it like a portfolio. Invest in your current flagship, but test the waters with other speedboats.