True North missed

Monday 8 July 2013, 1.51pm HKT


FINALLY, someone notices:—

reinventing the wheel

(via c4c)

“Very interesting program, but once again, like 90% of the fare out there … only for the YOUNG, as it frequently states … people who are going to amount to anything obviously don’t start studying after the age of 35 … the assumptions behind such [a] program’s exclusive support of youth seem[s] to be justified, and I’ve heard they make perfect sense from those I confront on the issue: ‘our shareholders/governing board established it as one of the rules, and we can’t deviate from those’ is usually the reason.

“However, it may just be based on pure and morbid prejudice, and they may have NO data at all to show that 25 year olds are a better investment than 52 year olds.

“Indeed, someone might produce more in 10 years than others 30, and then again, a promising young student may just change their mind, and all the investment in their future would have ‘gone to waste’ — but Erasmus obviously feels they can predict the future.”

— Someone in the academic world remarking on the Eramus Mundus Ph.D. programme International Doctorate for Experimental Approaches to Language and Brain at IDEALAB.

(emphasis mine)

IDEALAB is a European Union neurolinguistics research facility specialising in normal and impaired language acquisition. It is a consortium of two German universities (Potsdam and Gröningen), the University of Trento (Italy), Newcastle University (UK) and MacQuarie University (Australia).

*

Invest in the young, they say. It would be worthwhile, they say.

But it turns out that investment is mostly at the expense of older people, whose cutoff age is often set arbitrarily.

The risk then is the young continually reinvents the wheel, which the older ones often turn out to have had the experience of having reinvented the same wheel in THEIR youth.

Took these people long enough to notice…

The Naked Listener highly recommends that you visit the IDEALAB’s website to read the trite language of platitudes it uses to explain the programme.

(hat tip to Caroline K. for the original feed)

*

“The time you’re spending on polishing might be better spent building.”
— Seth Godin (07 July 2013)

In the business of education and research — as it is in the business of life — a lot of things that needs doing may well have been done before, even if it’s using the new features in the new version.

The challenge is to find this stuff and be able to make use of that earlier effort. A key resource in this regard is experience. In most practical situations, experience is a free resource — a kind of open-source resource, if you will — give or take a few exceptions.

I recall Mrs Friedman, my botany and zoology schoolmistress, telling us that knowledge is the pencil and experience the pencil sharpener. One without the other won’t do at all. All things being equal, she said, it’s the pencil sharpener that helps you put to use whatever crap pencil at hand, until a better pencil turns up.

Making recourse to experience (especially the experience of others) shouldn’t be one-way traffic. Others may be providing the experience and knowledge, but your ‘job’ is to see how much and how far that experience and knowledge will go. They are there not to guide us, but rather to be used to suggest modifications and improvements in some way to developing your own experience.

At the very least, it should stop you doing so much wheel reinvention.

Look at the above picture again.

“When I inherited you, I inherited a friend, not a slave…” — Ben-Hur (1959)

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