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Quantity Over Quality

uberstuber, an AJATTeer whom many of you will know, linked me to this great article at Coding Horror called “Quantity Always Trumps Quality”.

It resonates with a lot of things you’ve seen mentioned here before. Namely, that people who become amazing at something — people who become the best in their field — aren’t prolific because they’re good: they’re good because they’re prolific. So basically, it’s not that you directly get good at something, you simply get really, really, used to it.

Too many (schooled) people, including me, are always trying to get things right the first time.  They’re going for high quality right off the bat. Anything else would be failure; anything else would be unacceptable. My favorite example right now is ice-skating. I’m always trying to rope friends into going ice-skating with me. And half of them always seem to be like “but I’m not good at it” — well, WTF, of course not; you only do it for an hour or two every 3-4 years! That’s why we’re GOING!

Anyway, there isn’t much more for me on the subject right now. Read the article and be inspired 😀 . And while you’re at, listen to Jerry Seinfeld’s advice, too.

  10 comments for “Quantity Over Quality

  1. uberstuber
    August 8, 2008 at 14:55

    英語のサイトを読み続けるといいAJATTeerには成れないよね 😛

  2. Mark
    August 9, 2008 at 01:12

    I love this – one of those almost common sense things that it is so easy to overlook (especially if you are a perfectionist).


  3. Chiro-kun
    August 9, 2008 at 03:05

    “Practice makes perfect” isn’t the same as “Quantity always trumps quality” 😡

  4. AwkwardMap
    August 9, 2008 at 07:48

    I’ve started doing Japanese names now with an SRS and thought I’d give a link to this site:

    It looks like it’s research faculty’s names. Works pretty well because they’re in (五十音) order which means lots of repetition of family names.

  5. Max
    August 9, 2008 at 07:58

    On the subject of names, this is a cool site for learning family names:

    The names are listed by how common they are, so it’s pretty useful. I usually just put the name into Wikipedia to get the most common reading.

  6. Relja
    August 10, 2008 at 20:32

    I think it’s also important to note that the method is as important as the quantity. This might seem obvious, but it’s tempting to draw a conclusion that as long as there is quantity, no matter what you do, quality will follow. I think a typical language class is a good (and relevant 🙂 ) example, where you can participate actively and do all your homework for years and still not be able to produce a normal sentence.

    Maybe a better choice of words would be “focus” instead of “method”? As in, focusing on what should be done a lot? (a lot of listening to your favourite music, TV shows etc. on your mp3 player will do you a lot more good than a lot of grammar studying)

  7. nest0r
    August 11, 2008 at 01:47

    I’m an AJATTeer, you can be one too!

  8. Ceryni
    August 11, 2008 at 11:33

    Cause learning japanese is the thing to do?

  9. uberstuber
    August 11, 2008 at 12:30

    I wouldn’t consider a typical language class to be a lot of quantity. But yes, that is a good point.

  10. Relja
    August 11, 2008 at 19:59

    Yeah, I know, but I’m always reminded of the sheer number of mandatory classes in schools over the years. For instance, here in Serbia classes of French, German or Russian (depending on which shool you go to) go on for a total of 10 years! If you’re doing something for 10 years, at a minimum of 2 times per week, well I would say that’s a large quantity 🙂 and something is definitely wrong with the system if after so much time you aren’t skilled in whatever it is you’re learning.

    Though you’re right, I think that especially with language learning, the quantity has to be more, er, frequent 🙂 that is to say, 2 years of 12 hours of exposure per day are, IMO, way better than 6 years of an hour or two per day. Or maybe not, if the method is good enough?

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