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maxresdefaultIllness and pain are linked to death through our concept of the quality of life.

A new video, Life Asked Death: Palliative Care in Asia, examines the role of mortality in the qualitative value of life.

The raw reality of this story develops from the context of people seeking treatment for terminal illness in regions with few resources such as parts of Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

This is not an easy video for some people to watch, even for the 26 minutes that it takes.

I suggest that you do so because the last half of the story focuses on the significance of knowledge in quality of life.

Through direct experience we find that one of the main sources of suffering for dying people is not knowing what is happening to them.About_Bangladesh_IMG_2268

Fear of the unknown – not understanding the path that one is on – creates mental anguish.

The truth about one’s condition and impending death turns out to be a source of strength for the people that we meet in this story.

What a remarkable fact that is, that consciousness of our deaths and the causes of our pain is actually a foundation for greater quality of life.

With consciousness comes choice and with choice comes the resolution of identity, even if we are about to lose ourselves in the mystery of death.

I am eager to know what you think of Life Asked Death: Palliative Care in Asia, and the concepts in it.

In good spirit,

Jon

Herkulaneischer_Meister_002If you want to stand out in your career search and progression then it is important that employers know that you can read and write.

You should be reading books that are relevant in your career area or important generally and you should make sure that employers know that you are literate in this respect.

Your cover letter should have a “right now I am reading…” line with a title that matters to your career area and why you think it relevant.

Your resume should have a “significant books that I have read” section with titles that matter to your career area.

You should be conversant at job interviews about books that matter to your career area.

A top interview question is; “What important book have you read?” and they will expect you to tell them why you think it matters.

Do you know the 10 books that leaders in your career area consider important?

It is not hard to find that out and those who do so, and read the books, will have a distinct edge over less literate candidates.

Research the leaders on LinkedIn and look for their blogs.  They will often tell you which books they are reading and consider important.

What better strategy to promote your career than by getting inside the head-spaces of the people that you want to work for?

Be warned that claiming books that you have not read is a quick ticket to embarrassment and disappointment.

This summer is an excellent time to cultivate your professional reading habit.

Here are two books on my summer reading list.

The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks, Joshua Cooper Ramo, Little, Brown and Company. In this book Cooper proposes a framework for interpreting large-scale and seemingly chaotic changes in the world. His framework is based on network analysis which he applies to finance, economics, politics, cultural conflicts, war and terrorism. Anyone who promises a new way of looking at the world gets my attention and this summer I’ll find out whether Cooper provides a usable paradigm.  I’ll get back to you on that.

The 160-Character Solution: How Text Messaging and other Behavioral Strategies can Improve Education, Benjamin Castleman, Johns Hopkins University Press. Some people worry that text messaging and twitter indicate that shallow thinking is generally increasing. Castleman argues that effective uses of short messages lead to more focused meaning on the part of writers and increased self-regulation on the part of readers. Maybe I can use his ideas in my teaching.

Consider the reading one of the following recent books this summer:

But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past, Chuck Klosterman, Blue Rider Press.pile-of-books

Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World, Don Tapscott, Portfolio.

Pinpoint: How GPS is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds, Greg Milner, W. W. Norton & Company.

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity, Douglas Rushkoff, Portfolio.

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, Carlo Rovelli, Riverhead Books.

Sharing our Lives Online: Risks and Exposure in Social Media, David R. Brake, Palgrave Macmillan.

Using Technology, Building Democracy: Digital Campaigning and the Construction of Citizenship, Jessica Baldwin-Philippi, University Press.

Inside the Machine: Art and Invention in the Electronic Age, Megan Prelinger, W.W. Norton.

If none of these books catch your interest, I promise that with a bit of searching you will find some that do.

By choosing to read books that are relevant to your career area and by telling others what you learned from those books, you are presenting yourself as a literate member of that profession.

To put it conversely, if you were in charge of hiring someone, would you choose someone who is conversant in the current literature of the profession or someone who reads only what they are told to read and never talks about it?

That leads to the topic of sharing what you read with others; in particular others in your chosen profession.

Book reviews on social media are a strong way to demonstrate your literate intellect.

Goodreads is a social book review platform with 25 million members and can be linked to post your reviews to Facebook.Goodreads_'g'_logo

With these online connections you can make your professional literacy public and point employers to it.

Strong reviews are concise and identify specific aspects of a book while explaining why those aspects are significant.

A social book review is not intended to explain the whole book. Think of your book reviews as arguments that are intended to give evidence for whether someone should read the book or not.

If you need to prime your writing pump in order to write a review, consider Minimalist or Distraction-Free writing tools.

ZenPen is a prototypical online Minimalist writing site because you don’t even login, just start writing. Do not confuse it for the electronic cigarette with the same name.

FocusWriter is a program for Linux, Windows, and OS X that has plenty of features in the settings though they are hidden when you write.

Write! Is a distraction-free text editor with a “focus mode.”

Hemingway Editor started as a free online app and has morphed into a paid-for desktop application that is a minimalist interface with useful analysis and formatting features built in.

One does not need a computer to write; just a pad of paper or journal and pencil.

Keep those tools with your book so twriting-hand-1443450574xaThat you can note insights as you read.

My proposal is simple: find out what books matter in your future profession, read some of those books, write about what you read and make sure to promote what you read and write to prospective employers.

A with less effort than you put into a single course project you can make your professional literacy into a key asset for finding a job in your career area and moving steadily upward in that career.

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Image Acknowledgements

Herkulaneischer_Meister_002.jpg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_education#/media/File:Herkulaneischer_Meister_002.jpg

books-1170768_960_720.jpg
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/old%20book/

036-letter-writing-correspondence-q90-300×160.jpg
http://www.fromoldbooks.org/Jefferis-SearchlightsOnHealth/pages/036-letter-writing-correspondence/

Goodreads_’g’_logo.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Goodreads_%27g%27_logo.jpg

writing-hand-1443450574xaT.jpg
http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/hledej.php?hleda=writing

4098316462_2846b60687So what do you know? Is there any measure to determine how much you know? If you needed to know something new would you know how to learn it?

Your answers to these questions matter more than any set of information that you memorized in school.

The reason is that the sum of knowledge is growing at an ever increasing rate.

The growing rate of knowledge was described by philosopher/inventor/genius Buckminster Fuller, whom you should learn about.

In his 1982 book “Critical Path” Fuller presented an analysis of collective knowledge based on scientific and technical milestones through history.

He assigned values to the earliest known innovations, tools of the Stone Age going back 3 million years, up to the year 1 CE and designated that value a “knowledge unit.”

Using that measure he found that it took about 1,500 years from 1 CE for that knowledge unit to double to 2 knowledge units.

It doubled again 250 years later to 4 knowledge units and again in 150 years, around the year 1900, to 8 knowledge units.

Other thinkers have used Fuller’s analysis to extrapolate that by the year 2000 collective human knowledge was doubling every year.curve1

Some observers project that with coming changes in our information networks, such as the internet of things (IOT), total knowledge doubling will occur on a daily or even hourly basis.

Using this system it follows that the pace at which human knowledge is accumulated is accelerating; not only is the amount of total knowledge increasing but also its rate of growth.

Is there a natural or functional limit to knowledge acceleration? We do not know.

In some respects self-knowledge is one of our areas of greatest ignorance.

Just months ago our species learned something new about ourselves – that each individual’s brain memory power is greater by an order of magnitude; a GFPneuronfactor of 10, than previously believed.

In 2015 Thomas Bartol and associates of the Salk Institute reported that the anatomic structures of the trillions of synapses in the brain support a carrying capacity measured in petabytes – millions of gigabytes.

This finding is important because in addition to the amount of available storage it reveals sophisticated synaptic processes that use probability to create and retrieve memory.

The fact that knowledge is increasing rapidly does not imply that our intelligence is unable to handle it.

Creating strategies for managing complex information is what intelligent organisms like us do.

The acceleration of human knowledge does imply that the primary skill of a future knowledge worker will be research, analysis and synthesis of the not-yet-known.

You will succeed at your job by finding relevant streams of data, turning it into meaningful information from which you will produce usable knowledge.

At present that set of intellectual skills is the realm of the expert who is typically hired as a consultant.

In the near future those forms of expertise will be the foundations of all knowledge work because every career will consist of navigating a steep learning curve in the face of the accelerating velocity of knowledge.

The knowledge that drives your field will have changed significantly by the time you start the job won via your degree.

Your core strength in that job will be your capability to learn.

You can hone that capability now in your work at OSU, but to do so you must color outside of the lines of specialization.

Here are three practical ways that you may ramp up your learning prowess.

First, treat all of your learning as valuable.  The process of learning anything strengthens your capabilities for learning something new.  It is short sighted to negate a learning experience just because you do not see value in the information. You are not a giant flash drive for storing information. You are a learning organism that can grow and adapt to changing conditions.

Second, broaden your range of learning. Mastering subjects in depth is powerful and so is challenging your mind with subjects outside of your specialty.  As the sum of human knowledge grows its complexity increases. Diversifying your learning experiences inculcates stronger strategies for managing complexity.

Third, plan to keep on learning. A degree is not a finishing line, it is a portal to new learning in new contexts. Set your sights on a continual path of life-long learning beyond any program or position and you will increasingly thrive in a world of complexity that many people find overwhelming.

Some time soon you will wake up each day to a job that is already obsolete, but you will not be obsolete because of your skill at navigating the raising rate of cognitive change.

Human knowledge is growing at a scale that is hard to measure and so are you.

 

Notes

1. Disinformation Alert!: As quickly as knowledge grows, disinformation spreads faster, even on the topic of knowledge.

A claim widely reported on the web is that IBM predicted that knowledge

doubling will increase to occur on an hourly basis. The re-telling’s of this this vary and are frequently referenced back to a web article by David Russell Schilling, Knowledge doubling every 12 months, soon to be 12 hours in which he writes;

“ According to IBM, the build out of  the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours.”

Schilling links “IBM” in the sentence to a 2006 article from IBM; The toxic terabyte How data-dumping threatens business efficiency. On page 2 of that article is this sentence;

“It is projected that just four years from now, the world’s information base will be doubling in size every 11 hours.”

The IBM article says no more about this matter than that single sentence and does not reference any source for the projection. We have to treat that claim as anecdotal and not authoritative as it has been subsequently played out on the web.

Moreover, that article and claim are about the growth of digital data which is entirely separate from the knowledge acceleration concept based in Fuller’s analysis. Schilling misinterpreted the IBM document. Nothing in that document supports the claim that is presented in the title of his article.

Schilling is a credible writer and typically provides sources for his articles. Sadly, his erroneous article title has been takes as a demonstrated truth by not-credible media personalities such as Glenn Beck who opined on his talk show;

“IBM has just come out and said all of human knowledge soon will double every – think of this – all human knowledge will double every twelve hours.”

Beck was adlibbing live from Schilling’s story on an iPad and adding his own embellishments ad hoc.

The assumption of authority and facticity of this hourly doubling claim increases with each retelling. Of course, we know that IBM said nothing of the sort.

Anyone may quickly check the sources and find for themselves the basic misinterpretation. That popular pundits such as Beck and his production staff do not do such basic fact checking underscores the key point of my posted article above, that the intelligent uses of information and knowledge are based in research, analysis, and synthesis.

Basic Intelligence Skill: Before replicating a claim, be sure that you have check the sources for yourself.

Beck, G. (2014). Will human knowledge soon have the power to double every 12 hours?
http://www.glennbeck.com/2014/04/07/will-human-knowledge-soon-have-the-power-to-double-every-12-hours

IBM Global Technology Services. (2006). “The toxic terabyte How data-dumping threatens business efficiency.” http://www-935.ibm.com/services/no/cio/leverage/levinfo_wp_gts_thetoxic.pdf

Schilling, D.R. (2013). “Knowledge doubling every 12 months, soon to be 12 hours.”  Industry Tap into News. April 19. http://www.industrytap.com/knowledge-doubling-every-12-months-soon-to-be-every-12-hours/3950

Image Acknowledgements

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/44568283@N02/4098316462

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http://sustainablebenefits.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/curve.png

Pneuron.png
https://gl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurona#/media/File:GFPneuron.png

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