Citizens of the developed world have an unprecedented amount of freedom to choose how we live, which means we experience life as a giant distributed discovery problem: What should I do? Where should I work? Who should I spend my time with? In most cases, there is no right answer, just tradeoffs. Many of these tradeoffs happen in the market; for everything from what you should eat to where you should live, there is a menu of options, and between your preferences and your budget, you’ll make a choice.
Some markets, though, are two-sided — while you are weighing your options, those options are also weighing you. People fortunate enough to have those options quickly discover that it’s not enough to decide you want to go to Swarthmore, or get money out of Kleiner Perkins. Those institutions must also decide if they will have you.
It’s tempting to imagine that women could be forceful and self-confident without being arrogant or jerky, but that’s a false hope, because it’s other people who get to decide when they think you’re a jerk, and trying to stay under that threshold means giving those people veto power over your actions. To put yourself forward as someone good enough to do interesting things is, by definition, to expose yourself to all kinds of negative judgments, and as far as I can tell, the fact that other people get to decide what they think of your behavior leaves only two strategies for not suffering from those judgments: not doing anything, or not caring about the reaction.
- Clay Shirky, ITP professor
Interesting comments, too:
I was reminded of this article when I read “No One Knows What the F*** They’re Doing (or “The 3 Types of Knowledge”)” by Steve Schwartz last night. (Linky: http://jangosteve.com/post/380926251/no-one-knows-what-theyre-doing)
The executive summary is that knowledge falls into three broad categories:
* Shit you know,
* Shit you know you don’t know, and
* Shit you don’t know you don’t know
In Steve’s pie charts, the shit you know gets the smallest wedge. In terms of all there is to know in this world, we really don’t know all that much. The next, slightly larger wedge is the shit you know you don’t know. For example, I know I don’t know how to perform brain surgery. And the largest wedge, by a long way is the shit you don’t know you don’t know – the most “dangerous” form of “knowledge”. (Read the article for some good examples).
Steve suggests that we ought to strive to make the second wedge, the shit we know we don’t know, the biggest of the three. We can only know so much, and trying to know everything, well – thats just not going to happen. But if we know we don’t know something, we probably know where or how to find the answers or at least realize our limitations.
I think his point can be related to success in business. For example, arrogant assholes probably act more within the realm of shit they don’t know they don’t know and are only successful because they weaken others’ self confidence. Successful assertive people, on the other hand, leverage their understanding of what they know they don’t know.
For instance, in the original article by Clay he lied to the professor by saying he knew drafting when he didn’t. It was a calculated risk. Because he knew he didn’t know drafting, he had the tools to go out and prepare himself – to move drafting from something he knew he didn’t know, to something he did know.
Alex on Jan 16 commented: “i’m a woman and “lying” — whether that’s meant saying i knew Final Cut or Pro Tools — has gotten me every job i’ve ever had.” If the job relied on Final Cut, she knew she could go out and learn it so as not to have the calculated risk in claiming she knew it blow up in her face. I’ve done the same thing many times and it’s landed me jobs as well. So far it hasn’t backfired on me because I knew my limitations – I knew when I could learn something quickly and be good at it. And if it does backfire some day, it’ll only be because I wasn’t actually good at something, and not for lack of trying. That’s the calculated risk.
I think a lot of women who aren’t willing to take risks are probably operating entirely within the self-limiting realm of “shit you know”. They have this idea that if they don’t know something, they just don’t know it and therefore they’re not qualified. Period. Successful people leverage their understanding of what they don’t know, and actively take steps to adapt.
I just say that the male assertiveness/self-belief that Clay espouses has been running the planet for the last five (or so) milllenia, and look what a fucked up job we have done. And we want women to learn how to behave like us? Pleeeease.
Remarkable tool: our planet across time and space, in striking detail. So cool searching for places you know (San Jose: watch Highway 85 be built, SFS: see the rainforest disappear in patches near Yungaburra, Wellesley: Alumnae Valley filling in, etc)
Guys! We are affecting our planet! Get with it.
What giving up gives you
and where giving up takes you.
I’ve had and I’ve been.
Here in center frame,
here there’s only air.
and just enough space to fit.
power-editing sequences to old school the-year-2000-millenium-time jimmy eat world. why was music so much better when you first hit your personal music revolution? why does it not continue onwards and forwards and beyond? WHY
blown over by ward’s talk. hard problems every day all day, what am i doing with my life? being a data factory is cool and all, but there’s extra time in my day when i can be learning too.
really want to try this. where can i buy a cheap slit camera (HA)?
honey trap? this is science? how about males doing something called ‘thinking’ and ‘taking responsibility for their autonomous actions’
Not everyone agrees. In this cultural melting pot, some men, like Anthony Williams, 30, who runs a clothing shop on Fulton Street, says it’s part of his DNA. “I’m a man. I’m supposed to. I think every man, if they see a woman they feel is attractive, should try to do what they can to acquire this woman,” he said.
so unfortunately reminds me of crown heights mentality.