myLAR Update in sight? short-cut knowledge syndrome?
by phil on Monday Sep 22, 2003 8:26 AM
Law of Accelerating Returns
Where are the new posts about the law of accelerating returns? I had promised a daily-series of hacks that showed how something as complex as the eye could come about from "simple" evolution. I've either lost steam, or I've been really tired these past few days.
It could be the steam thing though. A similar situation happened to me when I went through Consciousness Explained... before reading that book, I was really curious about how consciousness worked... and wanted to answer questions like, "yeah, where exactly is the red when I see a red dress?" Thing is, I read about a quarter of the book and got a gist of the illumination process... like he provided some key metaphors that made it clear to me that it could be proved or described... and once I knew it was possible, or felt the mental gestalt that occured when the unknown and mysterious seemed attainable through more iterations of examples, I lost interest. I'm going through the same feeling with Linked. Like I read the first few chapters and got that "woah" feeling. But then as I went through, I thought, well, let me guess, everything's connected in an amazingly ridiculous ways and that power laws hold. Same with Godel Escher Bach.... it's like, "oh, let me guess, there is some sort of thing or trick within mathematics like infinite recursion or incompleteness from which you can gesture that consciousness arises out of it... all the while relating it to escher paintings and bach's complex compositions." It's like all I care about is the general feel. I do care about content, to some degree, but incompleteness doesn't bother me. As long as I understand the basic concept, get a few good anecdotes, and experience the author's unique style, then I'm done.
Danger, danger, danger... I'm either a pseudo-intellectual or have a high bar for novel content. I read the first four of the five books in The Gay Science (the 5th book he wrote many years after the first four, so I had a good excuse)... but I read that form beginning to end, everything he said was novel and exciting... not the same hat repeated.
Of course it sounds bad to go through this kind of process of incomplete books, and of course that's not how you were raised to do things (well, actually in high school I felt that was THE way, the only way in order to get by crappy courses, by skimming through for a gist). But just as they say, having read one book really well is better than reading many books poorly... why couldn't that "one book" be shortened to "a portion of a book." Plus, for three-quarters of a book I don't finish, I get free time to check out three other books I could dabble in.
I dunno, I just felt like washing my laundry here this morning.