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I am rather embarassed to admit that I’ve never read Haruki Murakami. I do plan on changing that soon. However I’ve heard that only are his books great, his memoir: What I talk about when I talk about running, is an equally wonderful and enlightening read. I think I’ll put it on my Kindle for the flight home.
As a graduate student I’d say about a third to a half of my time is spent either reading up on the current state of the field or looking for techniques and approaches that I can use in my own work. If your job involves pushing the state of the art it’s worth spending some time figuring out where the line is currently drawn. Even if that’s not your job description, I think a little scholarship in a relevant field can go a long way.
Unfortunately, scholarship or “book learning” often gets a bad rap. But I’d like to think that it’s mostly because books tend to be badly written. Also it’s hard to enjoy reading something unless you know why. As a precursor to this article I’d just like to say: Scholarship is most effective when it’s focused and self-motivated.
I’m a strong believer in the idea that our technology should actively help us lead better lives. That’s why I find things like the current slew of “minimalist” text editors for iOS and OS X deeply misguided – our software should do more, not less. Ifttt is a step in the right direction – it lets you connect web services with “if something happens then do something” clauses. Ideally I would like to see a general API that connects web services and lets me script them uniformly but this is a start.