Tech Experts, To-do lists and Bullshit Asymmetry
The High Five - Edition #2
Thank you for subscribing to these scribbles and recommendations. There’s quite some stuff I snacked on this week but here are The High Five:
Technology Perspectives: There is no such thing as Tech Expert anymore
I don't consider myself a technologist. Not even a geek. At the most, I consider myself as an enthusiast, or hobbyist, if you will. Mere fascination (that I do have) for how technology works, doesn't count anyway. But I do keep track of what's happening there. Every now and then, we see videos of CEOs of Tech giants (who do control the narratives) appearing before some Committee or the other, testifying about what their organization stands for (spouting all sorts of legal jargon) and the Committee members demonstrating a certain degree of tech-ignorance that borders on humour. We assume (and expect) the Committee members to be experts (and the power equation is evident there) in technology and when we see that they are not, it humours us. Last week, the CEOs of Tech giants appeared before a House Judiciary Committee. This piece, with such a provocative headline, argues that the Committee is not and can never be the experts. Not just the Committee, pretty much anyone - including the creators or even the riders of tech behemoths. While I disagree with that partially, it is still a well-argued piece that makes the point that - "They are not just black boxes to regulators, journalists, and scholars. They are black boxes to the very engineers who work there".
Work/Career: Why it’s OK that you don’t finish your to-do list
I have always liked Harvard Business Review. The insights and frameworks I discovered in HBR have been immensely useful in my career (I applied/used some even in my work projects). While I don't subscribe to the magazine anymore, I do read the free stuff they put out (yeah, I am a freeloader). HBR recently started another website/platform called HBR Ascend, which offers interesting, short articles on Career, Personal Growth, Working Smartly, Managing Teams etc. This article piqued my interest this week as it is about to-do lists. Now, I function based on well-organized to-do lists and many times, I end up not finishing some tasks, which leaves me a bit restless at the end of the day. If you are familiar with this, do check out this piece. It provides some practical tips to manage the lists better and also make peace with the reality of the work we knowledge workers deal with - the work is never exactly estimatable, many times.
A perspective that reframed my thinking: Brandolini’s Law
There was a time when I'd walk an extra mile to call out the bullshit thrown by people in discussions and arguments, especially when their ideas didn't really align with a generally accepted rational stance (I am not into either virtue signalling or Moral Absolutism here). But over time, I lost the drive to even engage, as I understood that it'd take a lot of effort, which isn't a priority of mine, to drill sense into someone's grey cells. And then, I recently discovered Brandolini's Law. Alberto Brandolini is a software engineer by profession and he became famous for coining the Bullshit Asymmetry Principle, now better known as Brandolini’s Law. While the law doesn't emerge from a branch of science, formally speaking, it still got very popular looks like - more as an internet adage. Brandolini's Law says that:
I found it both - 'a factually accurate description' and also hilarious. While it is still important to engage with the people who matter to us in life, despite the divergence of opinions (and the data or bullshit supporting the opinion - whichever way you look at it), I think that this law will serve as a reminder to understand when to invest in an argument and when to disengage. We interact with so many people every day and somewhere along the way, we lose the sense of the rank of importance of these people in our lives and we tend to engage with all of them in the same way (an impact of social-media, I guess). I think invoking Brandolini's Law into our mind, during a tedious and vexatious argument can help us disengage and restore of well-being to its natural balance.
A quote that resonated with me: All good art is a strong opinion of someone which isn't built on consensus. (by Kunal Shah)
A question I am pondered about this week: If a professor who didn't like you in college were to meet your boss (who, let's assume, likes your work) today - what would they talk about you?
Have a wonderful weekend!
This piece was written while listening to this playlist on Spotify. Some beautiful music there, with mix of Piano and sweeping orchestral motifs. I think it is one of my best discoveries on Spotify. You are welcome.