Monday, October 28, 2013


I'm giving a seminar tomorrow, so of course rather than practicing it again, I think about these other things...

Why do I/we go to seminars? It's an immensely inefficient way to obtain information. Half an hour with the paper is most definitely better than an hour and a half listening to someone talk about it, and that's if I manage to pay attention the whole time (ha!*)

So why do I still go? (...when I do?)

  1. Social image. If I never show up, what will people think of me? 
  2. Learning what kinds of questions people have, and therefore how to anticipate questions to my own work.
  3. Learning how to present, by watching others present. 
  4. A commitment device, to force myself to spend some time thinking about an interesting paper that isn't directly enough related to my research that I'd read the paper before letting it stagnate in my Mendeley "to read" folder for six months, or a year, or indefinitely... 
  5. To be able to keep up with talk around the water cooler. There may be more interesting papers to read than whichever random one is being presented, but if everyone in the office just saw the same presentation, we can have an interesting discussion about it.

What else? Is it just me?

Relatedly: I hear Jeff Bezos, in place of traditional meetings, requires people to write up reports, which everyone in the meeting reads silently and simultaneously before discussing it. He says it's impossible to write a report without thinking clearly about what you're saying, and reading is more efficient than listening. For this among other reasons, I rather idolize him...

*To be fair, the reason it's hard to pay attention the whole time is partly because it's an inefficient way to obtain information, so that's a little bit circular.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Economics is most definitely a science

I'm not even sure where the ridiculous notion that it's not got any footing.

Perfect on the topic.

(Until I have a job, hopefully less than six months from now, this blog probably won't contain much more than an occasional link :)

Monday, October 7, 2013


People always mention students' excitement/moments of clarity as the most gratifying parts of teaching, but I have to say, another big one (though perhaps only the first or second time you teach a class) is realizing you know a subject so well you barely have to prepare.

I guess I learned something in grad school!