A line in Beatrice Forman’s article, The soothing, slightly sinister world of productivity hacks, jumped out at me. While discussing various ways of being productive, she nods to a (now deleted) post to replace reading books and articles with Instagram and notes versions, rather than engaging with the 2-300 pages of a book. I had recently watched Trisha Gee’s talk, Becoming a Fully Buzzword Compliant Developer, about career development for developers. A light-hearted talk, it very much argues for reading books on a subject to get its depth an to understand the “why” now just the “how”.
Forman notes that Generation Z are in a very much more precarious position. The choice of shallow breadth over depth does seem worrying. It indicates speed of material gathering over the time taken to ingest and understand it: a continual acceleration of the shallows? Let’s assume that no-one reads and knowledge is merely recycled from blogs, Instagram, and TikTok for a year. How do we generated new knowledge from this recycling?
A question for productivity is what do you want to be productive in? I think that Gee’s talk provides some good pointers for knowledge acquisition and doing something with it.