One concept that I’ve just been thinking about is the “law of diminishing returns”. Wikipedia has this as an economic concept - I think it’s popular enough that it has moved beyond the technical definition. This idea, which I generally agree with, is that the deeper you get into something the less valuable it is. A great example is of course Excel, the software tool I use the most, which has all kinds of niche functionality there is only used by a small numbers of the entire Excel user base. This means that while it might take you a few months to get up to speed on the tool, after that it’s less and less valuable to learn more. This concept was also highlighted a recent episode of ATP (link to come later), When a listener asked a question about the depth of knowledge in particular software languages. John Siracusa highlighted the concept again to say after while the depth of the language you know becomes less practical to know more niche activity.
I think this is pretty common to most people and in many areas, right? We all have a friend who knows football stats from the 70s that nobody really cares about except when it comes to a pub quiz round every 10 years. But this idea also has a negative aspect, the pervasive dismissal of expert in all sorts of areas - particular health in this time of COVID-19.
I think this is also spread to our approach to theology. And I think it can be seen to be anti-intellectualism - I wonder if this law of diminishing returns plays into this as well. It if often assumed that the deeper you go into an issue is vanity, and subject to the law of diminishing returns. But this is where something like theology is different. If there is a finite amount of knowledge, which is the case in many subjects there is, then the closer you get to the edge the less useful it is. But if you believe that theology is the study of something infinite, then additional knowledge or going deeper into the subject may not be subject to the law of diminishing returns. And we dismiss so-called niche areas at our peril.
As Paul says:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Just got access to the mmhmm beta. It’s so so good. Can’t wait to amaze my colleagues. Sadly I’ve now got two weeks of holiday.
Love this feature in Strava.
It’s obviously really simple for software to do this and takes any hassle out of having to deal with the data yourself.
And of course makes for pleasant reading if your speed is improving. Aiming for 16-18mph averages. Currently I’m probably at about 15mph on most. I think I’m maxed out on downhills (as least safely), could do better on the flats, but the big area of improvement has to be all the climbs. Currently I’m only clmbing at 9-12mph.
John Authors: Points of Return (formerly of the FT, now at Bloomerg)
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..if you can’t express your idea, or argument, it doesn’t have any value.
So, if you’ve got a “great idea,” but you can’t communicate it, it’s not quite a great idea yet. It’s just a thought. Work at it, and re-work at it, and re-work at it again, and say it out loud, and change how you say it…until you can deliver it clearly.
Unvoiced, unclear thoughts don’t get sold, and re-sold, and appreciate in value in the marketplace of ideas.
The above words, from Mark Horstman, inspired me to finally start this (micro) blog. I have a lot of throughts about a variety of things.. but haven’t yet been able to express them clearly. Also partially inspired by MG Siegler’s 500ish.