Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 5:30 am

Daylen said: I believe the way I think and what I value are completely different than most others here on the forum due to my personality (INTJ vs INTP, Te vs Ti). :P
Reading is not doing. Reading is not doing. Even if you come up with a plan to measure your reading input, reading is still not doing (sigh.) (Except in the realm of Zone 000 (boundary brain case.))

Of course, if you are an XNTP, you also have to add the mantra. Talking is not doing. Talking is not doing. And, if you talk too much some assertive technician might overhear and misunderstand your idea or model as a plan or instruction and actually start building it before you finished designing it. Yikes! (wringing of hands.)

Seriously, what you may come to realize as you grow older is that if you don't put/push it (your ego strength?) out there, somebody else (EJ most likely) will eventually exert dominance right up to the edge of your brain case. They might even try to limit how many books you keep in the house! It's okay if you self-aware choose to occasionally derive pleasure or benefits from riding consigliere to one of these brutes, but keep the boundaries on your own domain intact.

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Fish
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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by Fish » Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:19 pm

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:35 am
if it took you 12.5X minutes to read the first Y words in "ERE", would it take you approximately 17X minutes attempting the same with "A Treatise on Human Nature"
While higher-level texts require more time to process, reading speed is also a function of other things like familiarity with subject matter. I regulate my reading effort (studying -> skimming) depending on the perceived insight that a book has to offer. Read the first few pages at a normal speed to estimate the author's "density of insight," then adjust accordingly. I usually gloss over equations unless the author has convinced me of their importance. Then I study them.

It's embarrassing to admit it here, but since receiving my white collar workforce credential I've largely refrained from reading more difficult books, in both a technical and literary sense. Like a lazy person I always avoided hard reading unless it was required. I'm still unlearning that bad habit and going from the written equivalent of candy to steak is a difficult adjustment. Reading older works like "Walden" and "The Importance of Living" offers some perspective on how much times have changed. No longer can the author presume an educated audience; instead we now measure an author by the ability to communicate an idea to the lowest common denominator without loss of information. So ideas are now distilled into plain and clear writing which leaves no room for interpretation. While I will not dispute the utility of Vulcan mind-meld, isn't the point of reading to stimulate new thoughts and gain new perspectives? Read something challenging, and have unique ideas inspired as a function of your education and experience. Instead of receiving the same software update as everyone else from the factory of collective thought.

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BRUTE
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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by BRUTE » Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:43 pm

brute would argue that "level of insight" and "complexity of writing" are not always correlated. lots of books have very little to say, but hide that fact in a cloud of complicated verbiage. these are obviously crap. others offer great insights yet could be understood by children. these are obviously great.

the tricky ones are books where a certain complexity of thought is required to convey the insights. these offer more value the more is invested in them. mostly technical books.

brute has gotten way more aggressive with dropping books that don't meet a high standard. for example, he stopped reading "So good they can't ignore you" about 20% in. there were just way too many anecdotes about rock stars and similar bullshit. the signal/noise ration simply wasn't good enough.

most modern non-fiction books seem to be puffed up blog posts, the intellectual equivalent of donuts - a bunch of white flour, sugar, and trans fats. maybe there's some survivor bias, because only the good books last.

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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by jacob » Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:53 pm

@Fish - Very true!

I would like to add that reading-level as per the calculator does not necessarily reflect insight-level. It's not that hard to learn how to write in a way that boosts the "test score" artificially without adding any insight (see, for example, almost ever single essay I wrote in high school). Such behavior can be fashionable. For example, current titles and urls tend towards short and even misspelled (e.g. bing.com WTF?!) whereas Victorian titles tended towards entire paragraphs (e.g. A discourse on available research based on certain words and phrases and delivered in list from via a cleverly designed contraption dot com Double-WTF?). Here's a complaint against writers of the latter kind: http://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/pol ... h/e_polit/ I think Einstein's observation about theories also holds for writing. It should be exactly as complex as the underlying thought but no more complex. It's quite easy for a writer to err towards "too complex" to the frustration of the reader. Distilling words is not easy. It is however extremely pleasurable. To a writer, good prose induces the same feeling as good source code does to a programmer. It's beautiful but a lot of work.

In sense of *free* online calculators, reading-level has nothing to do with writing ... but rather reflects the required ability from a reader's to feed themselves intellectually from a diet of either steak (requires lots of chewing and good stomach acid), hamburger, or blended babyfood that's 90% steamed carrots, 8% liquid smoke, and 2% "meat product". Unfortunately, modern readers have become so used to reading the word equivalent of babymush (the professional standard for a mass-published work of non-fiction is a 6th-grade reading level) that anything more incurs the intellectual equivalent of heart burn and acid reflux.

There's now an expectation that any expert on any subject will be able to provide a complete "mind meld" in the form of a babyfood sampler. If not, it's "too complicated", "too much theory", "super dry", "too complex", "poorly written", "forcing you to listen to all the arguments", wah wah wah!, blame the writer. Oh the humanity! Current sentiments have err'ed towards the expectation that experts must put their "best" arguments in a blender and serve the result in a way so it can be ingested through a straw or they'll get a poor review on Yelp! Bah!

In the present regime where even non-fiction books get edited down to a 6-grade reading level, there are additional problems. Reading level is calculated via some formula of average word and sentence lengths and afair doesn't consider the reader's vocabulary nor the reader's familiarity with various concepts. It's possible to induce heavy imagery and deep insight at a sixth grade reading level (see Hemingway or a mathematics paper) and it's possible to do the opposite (see a legalese). Because so few read books these days (extreme Pareto-law ... especially when corrected for Harry Potter and Hunger Games sales), the loss of mental models also means that any writer on complexity faces additional problems and would have to err towards pop-culture references (Matrix movie) rather than classical literature (Plato or metaphysics).

Edit: brute beat me to it and with less verbiage than my Victorian version @brute - This problem could be well-illustrated using a 2D-graph which would be shorter still ;-)

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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by daylen » Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:36 pm

BRUTE wrote:
Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:43 pm
brute has gotten way more aggressive with dropping books that don't meet a high standard. for example, he stopped reading "So good they can't ignore you" about 20% in. there were just way too many anecdotes about rock stars and similar bullshit. the signal/noise ration simply wasn't good enough.
I did basically the same thing, except after I skimmed through to the beginnings and ends of chapters mining for nuggets.

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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by jacob » Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:41 pm

@daylen - I still read most books back to end. For a lot of books, the nuggets comprise 1-2 sentences demonstrating a particularly clever phrasing. I read a ton though. Other people who also read a ton have spoken of similar experiences. If you don't read 100+ [mostly non-fiction on average] books per year, this probably doesn't apply.

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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by daylen » Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:03 pm

@Jacob The proportion of time that I spend reading has gradually increased in the past few years, now I probably read an average of 7-8 hours a day. I have noticed that over time the probability that I actually read a book all the way through has increased. I believe this is in part due to having a more established latticework (better targeting of information, higher stability of mental models). For instance, sometimes I will read a book and gain an insight part of the way through, then after thinking about how that insight alters the structure of the rest of my latticework, I find that there is a higher ROI in targeting knowledge somewhere else in my mental palace.

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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by jacob » Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:11 pm

Gotcha! Eventually random reading efforts will follow sigmoid efforts. There's relatively very little written at a high information density. What's written is mostly classics. (Hence the classic rule.) However, once you've read the classics, ...

=> Think for yourself.
=> Write your own classics (adhering by the constraints).

(best done in that order)

7Wannabe5
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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 5:41 pm

@BRUTE
This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

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BRUTE
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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by BRUTE » Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:38 pm

Jack wrote:worker bees can leave
even drones can fly away
the queen is their slave

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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by Scott 2 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:36 pm

@daylen, that's a LOT of reading! At 50-60 hours a week, it's for your personal enjoyment, so I'd argue what brings you the most pleasure offers the greatest ROI.

Blocking out that much time in a week for anything is impressive.

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daylen
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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by daylen » Thu Mar 30, 2017 12:35 am

@scott Won't last, I graduate soon and will have to get a job :(

I did interview for a data analyst position Tuesday that would be mindless enough to listen to audio books simultaneously :D , only pays 40k/year though. Would anyone choose that over a 60k/year job?

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BRUTE
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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by BRUTE » Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:19 am

no

brute would say, especially early in the career, building high income is more important. unless daylen is already FI.

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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by enigmaT120 » Thu Mar 30, 2017 12:47 pm

Jacob wrote " Distilling words is not easy. It is however extremely pleasurable. To a writer, good prose induces the same feeling as good source code does to a programmer. It's beautiful but a lot of work." which made me think about writing poetry, then 7WE5 and Brute both went right there. That was fun to read.

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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by BRUTE » Thu Mar 30, 2017 5:40 pm

and for any humans not involved in the code-writing arts, jacob is correct - the feeling of simplifying existing code and making it achieve the same more elegantly is one of the great pleasures in brute's life. there are even moments when brute reads somebody else's code and just goes "wow. brute wishes he had written that".

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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:54 pm

OTOH...

But then they were married (she felt awful about being pregnant before but Harry had been talking about marriage for a while and anyway laughed when she told him in early February about missing her period and said Great she was terribly frightened and he said Great and lifted her put his arms around under her bottom and lifted her like you would a child he could be so wonderful when you didn’t expect it in a way it seemed important that you didn’t expect it there was so much nice in him she couldn’t explain to anybody she had been so frightened about being pregnant and he made her be proud) they were married after her missing her second period in March and she was still little clumsy dark-complected Janice Springer and her husband was a conceited lunk who wasn’t good for anything in the world Daddy said and the feeling of being alone would melt a little with a little drink

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BRUTE
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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by BRUTE » Thu Mar 30, 2017 9:05 pm

it was a dark and stormy night..

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Re: Heuristics for estimating the ROI of a book

Post by enigmaT120 » Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:38 am

BRUTE wrote:
Thu Mar 30, 2017 5:40 pm
and for any humans not involved in the code-writing arts, jacob is correct - the feeling of simplifying existing code and making it achieve the same more elegantly is one of the great pleasures in brute's life. there are even moments when brute reads somebody else's code and just goes "wow. brute wishes he had written that".
I remember that but haven't done it since the mid 80s. Oh why did I have to take that chemistry class?

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