Yet another excellent speech from Malcolm Gladwell given at High Point University, see highpoint.edu. This time on
- Financial crisis of 2007–08
- Battle of Chancellorsville between General Lee and Joe Hooker during the American Civil War in 1863
- Overconfidence and miscalibration, results from Stuart Oskamp (Overconfidence in Case-Study Judgments)
His speech keeps the listener in suspense the whole time. He starts with the financial crisis, then he stashes this theme for a moment to start a story on the American Civil war, its protagonists, its setting, stash this once again, then talk on miscalibration. Now with this topic explained, he gets back to the civil war, and then to the financial crisis.
Here are some of the other characters, events, and phenomena he references:
- Military intelligence
- James Cayne, last CEO of Bear Stearns
- William D. Cohan‘s interview with Cayne
Some noteworthy quotes:
Miscalibration refers to the difference between how good you really are, and how good you think you are. (…) Miscalibration is how experts screw-up. (…) Incompetence are mistakes made by people who don’t know enough, but overconfidence are mistakes made by people who know a lot.
And one quote which can easily be remembered:
Incompetence is the disease of idiots, overconfidence is the disease of experts. (…) Incompetence annoys me, overconfidence terrifies me.
See also Malcolm Gladwell: Don’t go to Harvard, go to the Lousy Schools!, and Malcolm Gladwell on the importance of stubbornness.
A very interesting speech of Malcolm Gladwell on stubbornness in below YouTube video.
He makes references to
- Linear B, i.e., historic greek symbols
- Michael Ventris, deciphering Linear B
- Andrew Wiles and his proof for Fermat’s Last Theorem, no integer solutions for ,
- Gerhard Frey, linking Taniyama–Shimura conjecture and Fermat’s Last Theorem
- the mismatch problem, i.e., finding the right personnel for a task given only information on some predictors, e.g., IQ-tests, height, grades, etc.
- the capitalization problem, i.e., making full use of the potential of personnel, and not squandering talent
Also see Malcolm Gladwell’s article on the Flynn effect: What I.Q. doesn’t tell you about race.
Below chart is taken from Stress That Doesn’t Pay: The Commuting Paradox, August 2004, page 30. The data is per 2000/2001.
The above document links these numbers with reported satisfaction with life — longer commuting times means less happiness.
Numbers change over time. Five year later the U.S. halved their commuting time. This sparks some questions on the reliability of the data. See chart in Average Daily Commuting Time, European and North American Countries, 2005 (in minutes), data from OECD.
A breakdown according profession can be found in Which Professions Have the Longest Commutes?
Data is from 2014.
I turned 50 this year. So what was up this half century of life?
Half of my life I was educated in school and university.
I traveled through a couple of western European countries, like Spain, Portugal, Austria, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy, either privately or sent by my employer. I traveled to USA, Israel, and Mexico.
I witnessed when the Soviet Union collapsed, when Mikhail Gorbachev was celebrated as a superstar in Germany, most notably in West-Germany. When he traveled through West-Germany newspapers printed their headlines in russian, people were cheering at him like a prophet.
In the year 2010 I read Martin Varsavsky’s blog entry on The 6 Day Week by Carlos Varsavsky. In this post Martin Varsavsky states his father, born in 1933, proposed the 6-day week, i.e., work 4 days and rest 2 days. To cope for the reduced productivity, it is proposed to interleave the 6-day week for different groups of people in the country. Continue reading
Malcolm Gladwell held a speech at Google Zeitgeist Americas 2013 about drop-out rates in schools, especially in math and science. It turns out that going to one of the top universities is rarely a good idea, contrary to popular belief.
- EICD – elite institution cognitive disorder
- Your chance of graduating with a STEM degree from Maryland is 30% higher than it would be from Harvard.
He cites a paper by John P. Conley and Ali Sina Onder (mistakenly copied as John Connelly and Allie Under in the transcript).
Transcript is in Malcolm Gladwell: Zeitgeist Americas 2013.
Addendum 28-Nov-2013: Alexandre Afonso: Do good universities teach better, or do they just select better students?
Addendum 22-Mar-2014: There is a somewhat related article in The New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell about college rankings in THE ORDER OF THINGS: What college rankings really tell us.
I was recently asked about my opinion regarding agile software development.
I think the core problem is not agile or extreme programming, or object-oriented or structured. I think this simply misses the point. Below are the key ingredients to succeed in software development when it comes to development in larger groups of people, say 3 people and more.
- Your edit-compile-debug cycle should be fast. With fast I mean less than a second.
- Your build-system (
maven, etc.) must support the development and ideally only compiles those parts which really need compilation. Use
distcc where required or possible. Unfortunately, some sites simply don’t use this build tools but rather build manually. I still witness software development where to rebuild the entire software system takes half a day, fiddling with JCL and various menus to achieve the desired goal.
- Continue reading
Very inspirational and motivating speech held by Dean Kamen: