пятница, 13 апреля 2012 г.

The Two Sources Rule

The notion that in modern world the amount of books and another written sources of information is overwhelming is not fresh at all. It was introduced several decades ago and has been becoming increasingly actual from then on. The invention of the Internet eased the problem in the way that it made the process of finding and getting books and papers that suit one's needs less painful. From the other side it left unsolved the problem of choosing a particular book. In fact, the issue became even more complicated given the fact that nowadays almost everyone can write a piece and publish it in the web. This leads to an increasing amount of written materials, but the good papers vs. bad papers ratio is likely to stay the same (in the best case, I mean). I suppose that frequently one's choice of reading is based on other people's recommendations (at least mine is) and this idea raises the following question:
How do we know who's recommendations should we trust?

Not so long ago I've explored a sort of rule that seems to guide my choice of reading . This rule simply states that I tend to read the books which were recommended to me at least twice, by two different people. The recommendation here doesn't mean that someone directly advices me - it may be a mention in another book I am reading, citation in an article or a review in a blog. (By the way, I've just said that most of the books I read I find through reading.)

It is important to note that I don't mean to say I had somehow developed and formulated the law and had been deliberately following it from then on - no, the thing has developed without a minimal effort from my side and I've only noticed that generally I do unintentionally follow it. 

Another interesting detail here is how I prioritize the sources of such recommendations - that is who's advice do I trust more. Plain logic suggests I should pay more attention to the advice given by the people I know well and vice versa. Surprisingly, it turns out that I tend to consider the recommendations by people I don't know personally more valuable and trustworhy than those coming from my friends or family. Such recommendations often appear from blogs by different programming and CS-related people (that's obviously because most blogs I read are mainteinde by people of this kind) - for example, recently I started reading "Godel, Escher, Bach. An Eternal Golden Braid" by Douglas R. Hofstadter and for that I should thank Professor Eugene Wallingford who has mentioned the book in his blog.

One more non-perfect example supporting the idea is related to the "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey. My father had adviced me to read the book when I was about 15 years old. I did read it, but several years later - when I was 19. The thing that made me open the "Seven Habits" was a blog entry mentioning it by an individual whom I admired but never knew personally. I say that the example is not perfect because it fits precisely to the title idea of the entry - the book was recommended by two distinct persons and that may have made me start reading it. At the same time, the question of how I prioritize recommendations depending on their sources has first occupied me exactly in context of the advice that led me to reading the "Seven Habits" book.

Sincerely speaking, I can't find any good reason justifying such a strange priorities. The only idea I have about these is that most blogs and papers from which I get information on books are somehow connected to the fields of my interest whereas my father has nothing to do with, say, Computer Science or programming. This may be the point why I pay more attention to the recommendations from the blogs than those from my relatives - the former are just closer related to the stuff I am interested in. Still, this belief of me paying less attenton to my relatives' tips may prove to be false - especially considering the fact that I have read several books on economics that my father encouraged me to read - but, in case I'm not mistaken about the existence of such a rule, there must be some better explanation for such a strange prioritizing - an argument I can't formulate right now.