Known Unknowns

As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.
-Albert Einstein

TL;DR

Hello folks, we are going to start doing this differently. I figured if I don’t like lengthy diatribe articles, neither do you. So we will be splitting the blog into a Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR) section and Too Short; Want More! (TS;WM) section. I figure that serves a twofold purpose: I get better at writing intelligence BLUF’s (Bottom Line up Front), but I have rant and rave like a crazy person in the rest without burdening you. So lets try it out.

TL;DR

There is a trade off in depth and breadth of a topic understanding given time. If we prioritize breadth, we are in danger of compounding our cognitive bias as we take shortcuts in our study of topics as we never develop nuisance in understanding. If we prioritize depth we might miss out on interconnected context and relationships. There is no good answer and striking a balance is hard.

TS;WM

We are creatures of habit and likely those habits have been intensified during this period in which we find ourselves. But if you are like me, you still don’t feel like you have enough time to do things. As both an intelligence analysis and a student of global/foregin affairs I really enjoy the news. And as a programmer I often find myself executing a process and turning briefly to check the headlines, but just the headlines.

Rightly or wrongly I have fallen into this mental trap of just reading the article title and where it comes from:

Coronavirus latest: Michael Gove claims Covid-19 crisis could ‘increase chances of EU trade deal’ - inews (28/04/2020)

Trump news – live: President denies responsibility for people drinking bleach to fight coronavirus as tweetstorm branded ‘indecent and obscene’ - Independent (28/04/2020)

Russia’s Coronavirus Cases Surpass 90K in Latest One-Day Record Surge - Moscow Times (28/04/2020)

House of Commons to meet virtually on a platform described as a ‘gold rush for cyber spies’ - Canadian Broadcast Corporation (28/04/2020)

Now you can likey read these headlines and draw a certain amount of information from each, like a good BLUF. And looking at the source tells me something about their bias and editorial line. And my brain has then been supplementing it with previous knowledge and then and then making the forecast of ‘so what?’,‘Why is this important? And I like to think that is the one saving grace to my method of ‘skimming’ is that I am always trying to see what impact it has. There is no shortage of facts or opinions out there, but what happened next? It reminds me of the quote;

If you see it yourself, its news, if you see it on the news its history.

But what about depth? I will admit this is not my preferred learning method unless it is something like Dungeons and Dragons’, video games or generally something that wastes time. I have been told that depth is more satisfying that breath in learning because you build knowledge like a lego castle on a foundation that grows in complexity. But I ask, to what end? Like the car won’t start problem, it is interesting, but I have a mechanic, so I don’t need that level of detail. So I might be a great conversationalist (and humble too) but cannot get into the nitty gritty of a topic, unless, as mentioned it’s Dungeons and Dragons. But we need both people in the world right? Those who can be subject matter experts and those who can draw wider connections between topics and forecasts. I am fascinated with the implications of both styles so the question for you dear read is which do you prefer? Let me know, do you like deep diving a topic until you know everything or do you like to have a wide range of contextual knowledge of many topics?