Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Book Notes - Outliers

What can you say.... Gladwell.... These notes are for me, but you are welcome to them....

+ The Matthew Effect
Those who are successful are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunites that lead to further success.
Cutoff dates - inherently favoring those closer to the date especially in physical environments and also squandering half of the population of the same kinds of opportunities.
Outlier - freak, unpredictable, rise-from-the-ashes success story.
The Talented didn't start as outliers.

+ The 10,000 hours
The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researches have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.
Bill Joy, Mozart, The Beatles [by the time they had their first burst of success in 1964, they had performed live an estimated 1200 times,] Bill Gates.
Timing of getting 10,000 hours requires kids start young if they are going to be recruited in their field by the time they are young adults - think athletics.

+ The Trouble With Geniuses
IQ tests - convergence vs divergence test
Chris Langan
Practical intelligence
middle class parenting style "concerned cultivation" - foster and assess a child's talents, opinions and skills.
entitlement redefined - "acted as though they had a right to pursue their own individual preferences and to actively manage interactions in institutional settings... appeared to be acting on their own behalf to gain advantages... made special requests of teachers and doctors to adjust procedures to accommodate their desires."

+ Three Lessons from Joe Flom
1 - The Importance of Being Jewish
2 - Demographic Luck
3 - The Garment Industry and Meaningful Work
Autonomy, complexity and a connection between effort and reward are the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.

+ Harlan, KY
"culture of honor"
Cultural legacies are powerful forces. They have deep roots and long lives. They persist, generation after generation, virtually intact, even as the economic and social and demographic conditions that spawned them have vanished, and they play such a role in directing attitudes and behaviors that we cannot make sense of our world without them.

+ Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes
The kinds of errors that cause plane crashes are invariably errors of teamwork and communication.
"mitigated speech" - any attempt to downplay or sugarcoat the meaning of what is being said. linguists found six levels of mitigation in flight crew conversation.
Planes are safer when the least experienced pilot is flying, because it means the second pilot isn't going to be afraid to speak up.
Combating mitigation has become one of the great crusades in commercial aviation in the past fifteen years.
Hofstede Dimensions - 5 dimensions
Power Distance Index - attitudes toward hierarchy, how much a particular culture values and respects authority.
Western communication has what linguists call a "transmitter orientation" - responsibility of the speaker to communicate ideas clearly and unambiguously.

+ Rice Paddies and Math Tests
Chinese number counting system - the difference means that Asian children learn to count much faster than American children.
Throughout history, the people who grow rice have always worked harder than almost any other kind of farmer - working in a rice field is ten to twenty times more labor-intensive than working on an equivalent-size corn or wheat field - wet rice farming is very exacting.
Chinese proverb - "No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich." - indicative of the kind of mentality.
The TIMMS exam - pre-questionnaire of about 120 questions. Compare the questionaire rankings with the math test rankings country by country - they are exactly the same. Countries where the kids are willing to concentrate and focus on answering every single question in a questionnaire are the same countries where students do the best job at solving math problems.

+ Marita's Bargain
KIPP school
achievement gap is the results of things that happen during the school year as well as what happens during summer vacation - quantitative evidence of the benefits of school in the summer - keeps the momentum going through the summer.
The only problem with school for the kids who aren't achieving is that there isn't enough of it.

:: Environments matter. Holistic, big picture, anything but random.

:: Most well prepared people are intentional - 10,000 hours. Can't get this unless you are very disciplined.

:: How are we grooming those around us for success? It is in fact not random at all.

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