Hard Work

An excellent post by Tim O’Reilly on hard work. This follows the theme in my last post on semester observations.

There’s a long arc in computing that teaches us how much we gain through advances in ease-of-use, with the iPhone being the latest breakthrough success. But it’s important to remember how much we lose when we think that ease of use is everything. Many things worth doing are hard, requiring a great deal of practice before you achieve mastery.


People who can go from novice to expert with books are actually quite rare. It doesn’t seem like they are rare to O’Reilly since these are the types of people you’ve been selling to all along. However, if you’ve ever taught at a University you know that maybe 2% of the students you teach can learn themselves from nothing but a book. It’s not that this other 98% are dumb it’s that they haven’t learned how to learn a skill like programming or mathematics and have to be motivated to do kind of work they need to do to learn. Unfortunately, in most courses students do the minimum amount of actual practice that they can get away with because it’s not been made available in a form that gives them *ownership* over the process.