A Persian Cafe, Edward Lord Weeks

Saturday, 1 February 2014


I am attempting to plan, experiment with and just generally optimise a lot of things in my life. This is largely due to the influence of Less Wrong. One particular piece I was reading earlier:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pound of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B", and so on. Those being graded on "quality", however, needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an "A".
Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
 Accordingly, I intend to attempt to post here more often but to do less editing - just straight up aim to get the words out and to get the writing practice. My guess is that this will result in a short and medium term decline in quality and a long-term improvement. We'll see (at least in so far as quality is empirically measurable).

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