April 27th, 2003


things that change the world

Learning curve.

This one concept, I'm realizing, has ramifications across . . . I was about to say "our entire society". But I'd be wrong. Our entire world. Everything we do, from economics to warfare to romance, has been influenced by the fact that today's learning curve is orders of magnitude nastier than it was even a few hundred years ago . . . to say nothing of a millenia ago.

Now I'll explain.

Take a random middle ages peasant. He likely has a single job, that he starts when he gets up and ends when he goes to bed. He might be a farmer, or a blacksmith, or a musician (okay, not very likely, but possible). However, it's not hard to pick up a bit of the other professions. The basics of any one of those can be learned in a year . . . after that it's just practice. Somebody could be reasonably competent in any of those without needing much time.

Now take today. People spend ten years getting a degree just to get a start in their field, and are *always* racing to catch up with the current State of the Art. I've been programming for well over a decade, and I'm learning things constantly. There's no end. I've chosen backend as my specialty - I know nothing about CORBA, COM, MFC, or SOAP, and only bare scraps of XML. They're technically part of my profession, but I can't even learn my entire profession!

I'm not about to pick up metallurgy. I could spend another decade on that to begin with - I'd have to learn chemistry, and after that I don't even know enough to know what I don't know.

The learning curve has gotten absurd. A modern person can, if they're skilled, become an expert in a single *sub*profession. Not an entire profession, oh no - if anyone tells you they're an expert in "all parts of programming", laugh them out of the room. It can't be done. But I could, if I wanted, become an expert in user interfaces, or become an expert in algorithms (this is what I'm doing), or become an expert in networking.

I might pick up two of those subprofessions if I'm especially skilled.

Economics: someone trained in Profession A is going to require another decade of training to learn Profession B. If they're similar, it might only take a few years. Enormous inertia. If you're in a highly skilled profession, it's impossible to shift it to meet changing demand.

Warfare: imagine you capture the enemy supply depot, climb into their tank, and . . . don't recognize a single control. Sorry. You can't drive it. Now, if it was a chariot, it wouldn't be hard - horses have a pretty standardized interface. But you're out of luck - you can't capture their equipment anymore. There goes a good chunk of the Art of War.

Romance: If they don't know about what you're interested in, they're not gonna get interested - and they're never going to get to a level where you can talk about it as equals, because you're going to keep getting better at it. Give up and move on.

It's something I've been thinking about for a while.
  • Current Mood
    thoughtful thoughtful

(no subject)

I think it's time for a cost-benefit analysis. Right now I've got three options, and I can see four possible outcomes of the current situation.

My options:
Stay here.
Give it a month, decide then.

The outcomes:
Amazing reform, naruvonwilkins stops being a jerk entirely.
naruvonwilkins keeps being a jerk.
naruvonwilkins stops being a jerk for precisely the amount of time it takes for me to decide to stay.
naruvonwilkins becomes tolerable for six months.

Outcomes in detail . . . he stops being a jerk. Maybe I should add "or aliens eat his brain" to this. I know a grand total of one person who used to be a serious jerk and no longer is, and he *admits* he was. That's the crucial detail. naruvonwilkins, as near as I can tell, believes himself to be perfect and wonderful, and since nobody but me has told him otherwise, he's not going to change his mind. I'm just not going to bother mentioning this one again, I find it ludicrous.

He keeps being a jerk. Evidence has shown that nobody else in the house minds, or perhaps he just isn't targeting anyone else. In any case, I would mind. Likely outcome - especially considering his responses to my recent post when he was, in theory, supposed to be not flaming me anymore.

He stops being a jerk for precisely the amount of time it takes for me to decide to stay. This kind of depends on whether he's subconsciously annoying me or intentionally annoying me. I'm not going to hazard a guess on which. Possible outcome.

He becomes tolerable for six months - the various things we're setting up actually work. Okay. Possible outcome.

So now, what are my choices?

Lessee. I could stay here. Pros: don't have to move, don't have to leave friends. Cons: I'm still here. Breakdown: If he keeps being a jerk, life is hell. Extremely bad option. If he stops for the amount of time it takes for me to become "locked in", life is hell. Extremely bad option. He becomes tolerable . . . I still don't like him. I'm stuck living in a house with a guy I'd rather see gone. Bad option.

I could leave. Pros: another chance somewhere else. Get away from freeway noise, which would be kinda nice. Not have to deal with getting people's money every month. Cons: away from friends, and have to move. Breakdown: if he keeps being a jerk, who cares? Mediocre option. If he stops for that amount of time, who cares? Mediocre option. If he becomes tolerable, well, I look like a jerk for moving out. But at least I'm out. Bad option.

Or I could put it off . . . pros: choice based on actual result. cons: result could be faked. putting off a decision now can easily lead to putting it off in the future. I'll have to remake this entire decision all over again. Breakdown: he keeps being a jerk, I leave, only I've had to deal with him for another week/month. Bad option. He stops being a jerk until I'm locked in. Extremely bad option. He becomes tolerable . . . I'm still in the same house as him. Bad option.

Any other problems with moving out?

Well . . . yeah.

I'm already feeling extremely untrusting towards the people I've been friends with for a long time. Nothing can help that except a lot (a LOT) of time when I'm not feeling under attack by anyone. In the meantime, life hurts. If I talk about it I'm accused of grandstanding and manipulation. If I don't talk about it . . .

Well, I haven't been talking about it. How many people here know how close I've come to cutting? How many people here know that one of the reasons I'm currently being hesitant to learn to drive is that it would make it so much easier to kill myself? ("You want to drive us home?" (mental image of what it would be like to hit another car headon at a combined speed of 160mph) ". . . no, I think I'll pass right now.") How many people here know that I have complete plans set up for how to lose myself so thoroughly that nobody would be able to find me until I was ready again?

. . . if I don't talk about it, it doesn't get any better. Neither of these are viable options. Without the people involved even living nearby, it wouldn't get better . . . and dammit, I still don't want to lose these people. Even after all this, I still don't want to.

that's one of the best arguments I've come up with so far for leaving, you know? I hate it, but it's true. "These people have power over me. Get out. NOW." I hate being this suspicous, and I hate being used.

Then there's also the stress of leaving. There's having to pack everything up (again). A lot of this really wouldn't be *that* bad - rent a uhaul and just pile it in - but it wouldn't be great either. Not fun.

There's the bus schedules. From here, I can get to work in a single bus ride. That's nice.

And there's Amy . . . even though I don't see her as often as I'd like, hopefully that will change (or at least get better) now, and it's hard to beat a fifteen-minute walk for proximity.

And there's a truly unbelievable amount of stress.

Even if this works out, even if this attempt at patching things up is actually successful . . . will I still be under that stress? I mean, why *wouldn't* I? And I can't survive feeling like this.

so right now I'm leaning towards moving out, is the summary.

can anyone find a problem with this logic?
  • Current Mood
    listless listless