I was having an interesting discussion recently about how you know when you have reached your full potential. Forgive the following incoherence but I felt, for my own sake, I would jot down my ideas on the topic.
Firstly I don’t feel that anyone really knows when they’ve hit their limits. At least in my experience shortly after I reach a point that I thought would break me I feel like I could go further if I tried. That isn’t supposed to be some testament to my greatness or any such vanity but I think very few people ever reach a point they can’t possibly surpass. Take for example olympic records, in a great number of cases those records get broken again and again, Usane Bolt is a great example of this, he smashed through records that were well established and had previously only been beaten by small increments. Now I don’t want to get into technical discussions about how Olympic records don’t really speak for everything but I think the point is still there.
Secondly I don’t know if I would want to know my limit. I imagine that knowing just how far you could push yourself would be a motivation killer. Almost like the last 5 seconds of microwave time we seem to reach a point where we know the end is near and accept that as enough. Maybe that’s more of an issue with the human psyche but that is a discussion for those in the know. I saw a post on Reddit of all places once about a robot who was talking about knowing the limits of its capabilities. Whilst I know it was written by a person the message struck a chord with me. (Sadly I seem to have lost the link, if I ever run into it again I’ll put it in a comment, if anyone reading knows the post I’d appreciate the link).
Finally I think potential can be a load of rubbish sometimes (not in the electrical sense, that would go against all my years of engineering). Every music teacher I ever had told me I had the potential to be great, and you know what I did, I gave up. Mind you I was a kid and playing gameboy was more appealing than practicing the flute. Potential means nothing without commitment. By its very definition potential is the ability for something to happen at a later time, if you give up the potential is still there, just not the result. With that in mind I try to focus more on finishing the things I start and doing them as best I can. Taking aim helps you hit a target but nothing hits anything until you pull the trigger.
I don’t really know what gave me the idea but I thought it would be fun to see how China town compares to China, and from this how the other ‘towns’ compare.
So I live in Brisbane and the closest china town is Fortitude valley. Based on some rough estimates on Google Maps it appears to be about 181135 square meters (117 m by 115 m). This is a total area of 0.011835 square kilometers. China itself (according to a google search) is around 9,706,961 square kilometers giving a ratio of 1.21922E-9 or 0.00000000121922.
Using this ratio we can now calculate how big other ‘towns’ should be if, for some bizarre reason, town planners where forced to keep everything to scale.
India is a big country, not as big as china but still big, falling somewhere around 3,287,263 square km. Using the same ratio we used before this would leave little India a space of around 40007.9 square meters or about 63 by 63 meters which is, understandably, quite a large area.
Compared to China and India Italy is pretty small. At 301,230 square kilometers we can allow 367.26 square meters for little Italy. This is around 19 by 19 m, enough room for a couple of shops but not much more.
New Zealand Town
This one is kind of a bonus. If you’re into Flight of the Concords you may remember that in episode 8 of season 2 the New Zealand prime minister came to visit and they opened New Zealand town in his honor. New Zeland is around 268,680 square kilometers which when multiplied by the same ratio as the others gives us a space of about 327 square meters. Funnily enough the space they used in the show (202 Clinton St New York NY) Is pretty darn close to being this size.
After the recent announcement that Google is shutting down Google reader there seems to be an endless flow of ‘Google is evil’ posts coming from around the internet. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I figured that I would share mine. I’ve looked at some of the pain points related to the current state of Google and hopefully addressed why I think they aren’t an issue.
But Google Reader Was The Best!
I suppose I should start by talking about Google reader as it seems to be the product that sparked the fire. I used Google reader almost daily so the news that it was shutting down was a bit of a pain in the ass. I spent the day looking for an alternative and realised that sadly the state of RSS readers was pretty abismal. This, to me, is the reason why Google reader shutting down is not such a bad thing.
Competition is good. A lot of innovation comes from competitive companies trying to out perform one another. Google reader wasn’t perfect and saw very few updates in the time I spent using it. It had its own sort of small monopoly and that left the market (so to speak) quite and set in it’s ways. Did you ever use the Google Reader play interface (I think thats what it was called), honestly it was fun for about five seconds. The week following the reader announcement I personally saw a myriad of RSS sites shoot up in popularity and begin announcing big plan to keep their new audience happy.
Along side this RSS has, in some ways, lost its position in the lime light. A lot of my news and blog reading takes place on a tablet or smart phone and almost all of them have a mobile friendly site. Most of the links I visit come from sites like Hacker News or Reddit. Sometimes whilst travelling I listen to stories on Umano and the things I do wish to subscribe to I have saved in Flipboard on my phone and when an article is too long to read on my phone I save it to Pocket and read it when I get home. It is somewhat hard to see where RSS readers fit into this whole equation. Yes I’m aware Flipboard needs to be delivered content somehow and it is sort of an RSS reader but I would go as far as to say that RSS is more of a feature of Flipboard than it’s purpose.
But Google+ Sucks!
I like google plus. It might be that the people that caused me to leave facebook just haven’t found it yet but I feel that overall the level of conversation is more intelectual and despite its reportedly low usage some of the communities I am part of have a strong base of active and interesting users.
The argument that Google forces users to use Google+ is somewhat stupid to me. I see it more like a free credit card that your bank gives you. You can leave it in a draw or shred it for all the bank cares, just because you own it doesn’t mean you need to use it. You can turn off all email alerts quite easily and your results in Google wont be altered if you don’t give them anything to use.
But advertising, tailored to me!
This is the one that confuses me the most. I feel that as a tech savvy individual I can make the conscious decision to not click an advertisement. I don’t care what the ads say, I don’t think I’ve ever clicked an ad intentionally. I understand that Google needs to make money and, if there really was an appropriate ad, I wouldn’t ignore it on principal.
The common argument is that Google using what it knows about you to tailor ads is bad. This I almost completely disagree with. Firstly Google would lose its advantage if it just gave your data away to advertisers, it takes a product, compares it to a giant list of ‘people’ it has collected information from and shows the product to those it deems appropriate. To me this isn’t any more a violation of my privacy than my doctor recommending me medication based on my symptoms. The drug company doesn’t know my address or what colour hair I have any more than advertisers do.
Even then if a company knew I was a male in my twenties and like tech I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.
Basically as a rational adult the only reason I would ‘leave’ Google would be if staying cost me more than leaving did. I don’t use every Google product but having Chrome, gmail, drive, android, and the best search engine on the internet is well worth the alleged draw backs. I don’t feel I have any fan boy attachment to Google and if something ‘facebook like’ happened I would move onto something else.
Being an opinion piece there is likely to be arguments both ways on the things I’ve said. I’m always happy to discuss via email or comments.