Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Grokrate

I finally have a blog. My hope is when I am in between things I will actually post something instead of playing minesweeper or doing something equally inane. Maybe some of these posts will actually make sense and be of interest to others.

So what is "grokrate"? It's a word I made up so let me explain. When you stare at something complicated, after a while it may actually start making sense. This deeper understanding, in which the information gets internalized into your thinking is the grokking of that information. The term grok comes from the Robert A. Heinlein novel Stranger in a Strange Land, and it is pretty commonly used among geeks.

The grokrate is simply the rate at which you grok. Sometimes our grokrate is phenomenally high. For example, when you are crossing a busy street your brain assesses the speed and positions of a variety of different objects, and then has you walk (run) across safely. Action heros and NBA basketball players are forever impressing us with their grokrates as they successfully improvise in seemingly impossible situations .

However, that kind of information is different from information on the web.
When you want to buy a new car, plan a trip or understand more about climate change, you are more-or-less certain to be in for a very long period of meandering through various websites. Even if you do find everything you need, it's hard to synthesize it. The grokrate is typically very very low. This turns most people into information grazers -- they'd rather flit from one amusing story to the next and ignore the "hard" information synthesis required to really grok stuff. Or they rely on someone else to tell them what to think...

So what can you do to increase your grokrate? I'm interested in figuring out effective ways to do that.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting...

kay said...

This was REALLY interesting. Grokking is an activity most of us engage in most of the time. It would be interesting to map out grok rates by activity, time of day (sample average) and by profession. However, I think grok also refers to the degree of empathy one employs to understand something. So then this would make it harder to apply to tasks and would be more applicable to social interactions. Just my 2 cents.

Parekh said...

This could be VERY useful to those who need to compile and synthesise information. We do miss out significant information and then regret. The extend to which one would use this depend upon the individual needs and capacity. But it could be used even in a limited way by MANY. As in any other case the way it would be used will depend on the person useing it but it will be used by many.