I don’t know how to read. You probably don’t either.

Let me back up a little before I explain…

For the past few years, I’ve been fascinated by the field of behavioral economics. After being introduced to the concept by Malcom Gladwell in his (excellent) book Blink, it’s pretty much all I’ve been reading since (with the odd biography and pulp fiction novel thrown in).

Two areas in particular have captured my attention:

1. Decision Theory – how we making decisions every day; which factors influence us (e.g. Making decisions when tired vs well rested). This is especially useful to me professionally in the field of exploitation Marketing.

2. Thinking about thinking –┬áspecifically in relation to optimizing your body and environment for thinking e.g. Study before or after exercise, creating the optimal environment for study. Closely related to decision theory, but more about the overall cognitive process and not just the decision aspect.

Recently, I’ve had to add a third area to study:

3. Learning to read.

I, like you, learned to read as a child. Now though, I find that my instruction was only given in the most technical sense. I can turn the scribbles on a page or the stuff on a screen into words and understand their definition.

Gilly: You know all that from staring at marks on paper?
Samwell: Yes.
Gilly: You’re like, a wizard.

– Game of Thrones

The problem is, that I never formally learned the next part of the process – interrogating the argument presented by the words, extracting their salient points, finding their strengths and flaws and then understanding them fully and deeply.

This lack of inspectional or analytical reading skills has resulted in countless wasted hours. More and more I know know that I have merely skimmed the books in my collection, and not truly read them.

So, for the next few weeks, I’m going to make a conscious effort to learn to read “properly”. I don’t want to merely look at the words on the page until I’ve seen them all. My goal is to digest, inspect, analyze and then understand the material.

I feel that this is a worthy investment of effort and energy that will pay off many times over I discover new works, and truly grasp old favorites.

Here’s to the next chapter.


What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work

Dan Ariely gave a TED talk on the effects of motivation and rejection and the effect that this has on how we feel about the work we do.

It turns out that people feel a sense of ownership over pretty much anything they do, regardless of how menial the task is. Using some interesting experiments, Ariely is able to provide some very easy to understand insight on how people work and the value they assign to the things they do.

Here is the Youtube link to the talk:

Dan Ariely – What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work

Another interesting take-away is that when something is too simple or easy, people have no sense of ownership. An example he provides dates back to the invention of cake mix, or what he calls the Ikea Effect.

“It turns out, they were very unpopular.[…] What they figured out was there was not enough effort involved. It was so easy nobody could serve cake to their guest and say ‘here is my cake.’ […] It didn’t really feel like their own.

So they took out the eggs and the milk. Now it was their cake.”

If you enjoy this talk, you should read Predictably Irrational, a book by Dan Ariely.