Study Hacks Blog
Posts from July, 2017 - Study Hacks - Cal Newport
July 24th, 2017 · 5 comments
Top Performer is an eight-week online career mastery course that I developed with my friend and longtime collaborator Scott Young. It helps you develop a deep understanding of how your career works, and then apply the principles of deliberate practice to efficiently master the skills you identify as mattering most. Over the past four years we’ve had over two thousand professionals go though this course, representing a wide variety of different fields, backgrounds, and career stages.
We open the course infrequently for new registrations (usually twice a year). It’s that time again: the course is open for registration this week (the registration closes Friday at midnight Pacific time).
If you’d like to learn more about the course, how it works or whether it’s right for you,* see the registration page here.
If you have any questions about the course, Scott’s team will be happy to answer them here: firstname.lastname@example.org
* To emphasize the obvious: the course is definitely not for everyone. It’s expensive and targeting those at a stage in their career where they’re able and willing to invest more seriously in advancement. I might send one or two additional notes about the course this week, but will then return to my regularly scheduled programming.
July 21st, 2017 · 19 comments
An Insightful Life
Claude Shannon is one of my intellectual heroes.
His MIT master’s thesis, submitted in 1936, laid the foundation for digital circuit design. (My MIT master’s thesis, submitted 70 years later, has so far proven somewhat less influential.)
His insight was simple. The wires, relays and switches that made up the types of complex circuits he encountered at AT&T could be understand as the terms and operators of logic statements expressed in the boolean algebra he encountered as a math major at the University of Michigan.
Though simple, this insight had huge impact. It meant that circuits could be designed and optimized in the abstract and precise language of mathematics, and then transformed back to soldered wires and finicky magnetic coils only at the last step — enabling staggering leaps in circuit complexity.
But he wasn’t done. A decade later, inspired in part by his wartime research efforts, Shannon developed information theory: a mathematical framework that formalizes both techniques and fundamental limits for reliably transmitting information over noisy channels.
(For a popular treatment of this theory, see this or this; for a technical introduction, I recommend this guide).
Put another way, Shannon’s master’s thesis laid the foundation for digital computers, while his information theory paper laid the foundation for digital communication.
Not a bad legacy.
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July 14th, 2017 · 18 comments
The Rule of Five
This morning I listened to Srini Rao interview Sarah Peck. Though most of the interview focuses on Peck’s personal life, toward the end they discuss her work as a business consultant.
During this segment, Peck mentioned an interesting heuristic I hadn’t heard before (I’m paraphrasing here): relying only on unstructured communication — e.g., just give everyone an email address or shared Slack channel and then rock and roll — works fine in organizations with five or less employees, but once you grow larger there is too much communication for people to comfortably keep track of everything just in their heads.
At this size, Peck notes, organizations need to introduce systems to document communication and to support structured decisions. It’s no longer enough to simply let emails and chats fly, and hope everything works out. You need more detailed and careful approaches to how people work.
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