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May 8th, 2006

morning linkage

Links from the_xtina, a neverending source of fascination and online time-killing:

This is a very good summation of why I left the work world.

An article about why talent is overrated. A snippet:

[Ericsson's] first experiment, nearly 30 years ago, involved memory: training a person to hear and then repeat a random series of numbers. "With the first subject, after about 20 hours of training, his digit span had risen from 7 to 20," Ericsson recalls. "He kept improving, and after about 200 hours of training he had risen to over 80 numbers."

This ... led Ericsson to conclude that the act of memorizing is more of a cognitive exercise than an intuitive one. In other words, whatever innate differences two people may exhibit in their abilities to memorize, those differences are swamped by how well each person "encodes" the information. And the best way to learn how to encode information meaningfully, Ericsson determined, was a process known as deliberate practice.


See? Ritual memorization is good for your brain!

If I could count the number of people who've admired my memorization ability and told me "I can't memorize stuff... I don't know how you do it".... it honestly does just take practice. Start small (Liber Resh was my first, and it seemed insurmountable at the time) and it will honestly come faster and faster with time.

This also makes me rest easier about something that's going to sound awfully egotistical. It's been felt over my life that I'm 'talented' at just about anything I try, which people have gotten greatly upset at me for (generally not since grade school, but that kind of thing sticks with you). By this interpretation it wasn't talent at all, but just my freakish enthusiasm for anything new and shiny that allowed me to seem disgustingly good at it - at least until I got bored and found the next shiny thing.

That includes art. I'm a good artist not because I'm talented, but because I've been working at it for nearly 25 years. You try doing something for 25 years and *not* being good at it!

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