Home Economics

post by Ritalin · 2013-07-07T21:30:34.459Z · score: 13 (17 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 47 comments

As I inventoried my personal library and classified it using the Universal Decimal System, I found out about lots of fields of knowledge I was only dimly aware of or didn't even know existed1, and one of those that piqued my curiosity was home economics, domestic science and housekeeping (field 64). I was kinda bluffed, actually; I always thought of home economics as that thing that shows up in American high school sitcoms, that elective "for girls" where people get to cook stuff on campus. Now I find that it fully occupies one of The Tens of the UDC! I finally realized it; this is Serious Business!

I thought of the permanently shoddy state of my bank account, of all the money I had spent in books (no less than 215 physical books, and then there's Kindle!), fancy gadgets (were those Marshall headphones really necessary? What about that sandwich-maker?), fancy food (even though I always seem to end up "cooking" the same boring, unbalanced crap), unnecessary or excessive heating and air conditioning, and so on and so forth.

I've come to realize how much I had underestimated this field, the duty towards oneself of taking care of one's house, and the advantages of so doing. I want to catch up in terms of planning my budget and my cleaning and my cooking and my buying furniture and appliances and so on and so for. I suppose I could figure it out by myself, but why reinvent the wheel?

So I thought to myself: asking your mates at LW has had awesome results when it came to getting your library in order, why don't you ask them about Home Economics? They probably actually went to those courses in High School, or have otherwise taken an interest just to optimize their homes! I mean, their literal livelihoods and well-beings are at stake, so why wouldn't they2?

So, yeah, if you guys know which reference books to start with, or have any practical recommendations in terms of resources or bibliography, and the handling thereof, I'd love to hear it. Who knows, maybe a good top level post may come of it?





1This triggered my imagination on a completely unrelated topic: a gamified education system in the style of an RPG skill tree.


2My Inner Critic obligingly suggested "Arkasia and, given the demographic, a compounded disdain for manual labor, pedestrian and materialistic concerns, and girly stuff. Why else didn't you?" I told it to step aside and go have a swim in the North Atlantic.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by AspiringRationalist · 2013-07-08T03:19:38.339Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Here's something that has worked pretty well for my girlfriend and me:

We have found a few recipes that are (1) relatively simple, (2) we both like, and (3) scalable and once every ~3 weeks, we order a bunch of groceries from a delivery service and have a ~4 hour cooking session where we cook them all at once. We eat out or get takeout about twice a week, and the massive cooking session produces all our other dinners for the 3 weeks. We freeze most of what we cook and then when we want something, we microwave it.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-09T12:29:21.895Z · score: 0 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Vapor/Steam ovens are also quite good for unfreezing frozen stuff, and I'm not unhappy with the results from classic ovens either. They're certainly less noisy than the Microwave, and consume less inductive power (an electric engineer's concern).

One thing I strongly dislike about microwave ovens is that they tend to heat recipients as well as contents, and I've often found that the glass was hotter than the beverage!

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-08T04:36:41.986Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I'm really interested to see what people have to say on this topic, but I think its broadness prevents most people from responding, since we don't really know what you're looking for.

There seem to be quite a number of distinct topics that would each deserve their own post. Off the top of my head: budgeting/finances, decorating, cooking, organizing, cleaning, clothing, entertaining, mixology, etc

Could you ask some specific questions that people could respond to?

My random tip: White vinegar (the cheap kind you buy in a big plastic jug) is great for getting rid of smells. My favorite usage is for clothing and towels. Especially if you live in a humid area, towels often develop a bit of a musty smell when wet, even when they've just been washed. If you toss some white vinegar in the laundry machine while washing, it will get rid of the smell. I throw in some vinegar in each of my loads (the vinegary smell is gone once dry. Other useful usage is cleaning microwaves, refrigerators, etc.

comment by Tyrrell_McAllister · 2013-07-08T16:03:28.423Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I add a half-cup of white vinegar to the dish washer every time I run it. This solved the problem it had with leaving lots of soap scum and hard-water mineral residues. White vinegar also seemed to clear out blocked water-jet sources (or something; I'm hazy on the details), because the dish washer did a much better job of washing away food debris after it had run with the vinegar a few times. There is no vinegar smell left after the washer runs.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-09T12:24:07.542Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed one thing that surprised me with the Home Economics section was how big it was. I am currently in the "don't even know where to begin" stage, but all these posts are giving me ideas; don't worry, I'll follow up on this with more specific stuff.

comment by Error · 2013-07-08T12:38:41.768Z · score: 4 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a few things that work well for me:

Many home chores are parallelizable. e.g. cooking something nice may take around 40 minutes, but most of that is spent waiting for timers to go off. The intervals of non-cooking are too short to do anything interesting, so I use the time to get other chores done. During morning hygeine and breakfast cooking, I run laundry. While cooking dinner, I fold laundry and make the next day's lunch. This reduces the real loss of time to chores, because it was time you would have lost anyway. From another perspective, it reduces the time lost to cooking, because most of that would have had to have been spent on chores anyway.

For meals, we buy about five kinds of meat at Costco and freeze it all, then thaw what we need as we need it. (I'd be happier getting groceries delivered, but no one seems to do it here) We have about a half-dozen dinner recipes that we rotate through so we at least feel like we have variety. We've sometimes found that making a list at the start of the week of what we're going to have each night helps with the Trivial Inconvenience of "decide what we want to eat before we can start cooking."

If you're not disposed to abusing a credit card, here's a good way to handle personal finances: Get a credit card with a sufficient limit and put absolutely everything on it. At the end of the month, pay it off in full, preferably online via electronic transfer. This ensures that you will never accidentally bounce a check (because there's never any checks "in the pipeline" to worry about), makes it apparent very quickly if you're overspending (if you can't pay it off in full, you fail), and reduces the time spent on managing finances to about ten minutes a month. The year-end reports CC companies send you are quite useful for figuring out where all your money's going, too. For bonus points, use a card with cash-back benefits. If you can't trust yourself with a CC (or can't get one with a high enough limit), use a debit card.

If you live in an apartment, small annoyances can often be solved by the owner's maintenance people. I'm thinking of things like clogged drains -- we went through a lot of drain cleaner before realizing it wasn't actually our problem.

The best chores are the ones you don't have to do. Have your paycheck direct deposited. Do everything by CC and online banking so you never have to go to the bank for cash. (but carry emergency cash if you want to) If you can order something instead of going out to buy it, do it. When you do have to shop, do it all in one place if you can. We have a walmart and costco right across the street from each other, which makes groceries and necessities easy.

And for keeping the place neat and tidy, it helps to have a partner who's a professional housekeeper. :-)

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2013-07-08T21:05:54.230Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The second paragraph of this post reminded me of the second (full-sized) paragraph of this.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-09T11:50:56.126Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

^ "this" is a little horrifying. I'm not sure whether it's more horrfying than playing Starcraft all day every day, though.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-09T12:09:33.671Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The intervals of non-cooking are too short to do anything interesting, so I use the time to get other chores done.

I tend to try to go back to the computer/book and use the oven or heating plaque at low-intensity. After my fourth or fifth carbon-coated pan, I've only started to get it right...

Do everything by CC.

I used to think that was an awesome idea, but then I found out banks make businesses pay 1€ out of every sale they make whenever I pay by DC (no CC for me if I can avoid it), and suddenly every time I paid for a 6€ expense with my card, I felt bad about myself... I'm seriously considering going back to cash.

it helps to have a partner who's a professional housekeeper.

I need to research manuals for professional housekeepers: there might be some interesting secrets and tricks there.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-07-08T11:33:46.688Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I thought of the permanently shoddy state of my bank account

mint.com fixed that for me. The cost of mint is your bank data is agrigated and used in ways you don't control, and you get personalized advertising when you view mint. The benefit is mint looks at your expenses and suggests a budget. The budget it suggested for me was achievable and as I followed it my finances stabilized and I was able to set and achieve goals. Of the 3-4 people I convinced to try it (at no benefit to me), all had similar experiences. Mint is attentive to security and has a clear explanation of how to remove all your data from their computers.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-09T12:16:11.717Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not yet available in Spain. First Pandora, then MLP episodes on iTunes, and now this. I feel so miserable.

EDIT: I've been looking for alternatives, and it looks like I'm in for one hell of a headache...

comment by beth · 2013-07-08T22:21:17.384Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Most of the stuff I own is consumer goods, and I need to store it in a way that optimizes for accessibility. You know who else needs to do that? Retail stores. So I made a list of all my available closets, shelves, under bed storage, etc. and assigned each space a corresponding retail category. There's sporting goods, where I keep things like my tent and sleeping bags. Headlamps go in electrical along with the flashlights. Some sections are just 1/4 of a shelf, but having a designated area makes it way easier to find things, and cleaning up is a lot faster, when I actually get around to cleaning up, that is.

When I first implemented this idea I went a little overboard and it was really organized, but inconvenient. They say you should normalize until it hurts, then denormalize until it works, and sometimes it's just nice to keep things handy, sometimes in more than one place. So I added back things like the kitchen junk drawer, which consists of a subset of office supplies (pens, notepads, scissors), electrical (batteries), hardware (measuring tape), and personal care (vitamins). After adjusting the balance a bit the system got more comfortable.

I also have two more categories of stuff that fall outside the retail model: reference, and archival. The reference section is for books, digital media and papers, basically the bookshelves and file cabinets. I don't use The Universal Decimal System but it seems like the logical way to organize books. The archival section includes things like artwork and artifacts with historical/sentimental value, which I curate like a museum collection. Some go on display, others go in the least accessible parts of my storage spaces, ie. long term storage.

comment by palladias · 2013-07-08T06:19:57.138Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Kind of like how people are always saying about coding -- a good way to learn to sew is to have a problem you need to solve. I learned basic hand sewing on my own, and picked up machine sewing and pattern-using in college when I worked costume crew for plays. Volunteering in community theatre might be a good way to learn the basics quickly with tight feedback loops and success spirals/clear sense of pride/ownership. Plus then you also learn lots of cheats/hacks, which you won't get from a book.

Halloween is an excellent time to put this to use (for you or for children). I made this medium rated dress as my first solo project after learning machine sewing for Pippin.

And, best of all, sewing really rewards spatial thinkers, especially when you're altering or improvising a pattern.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-09T12:21:56.490Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That sonds awesome. Any recommendations in particular, in terms of good books, starting materials, time allocated, and so on?

comment by palladias · 2013-07-09T17:09:50.188Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't learn from books. In order to start, you can just do cheap mockups of clothes in muslin (really cheap fabric), but I expect for many people it's worth it to pay for nice fabric and actually make something useable. (Still, use muslin to try out a new technique). The most expensive thing is the sewing machine, which is why you want to learn from someone (and borrow time on their machine) while you work out if you'd use one of your own.

Most fabric stores (Joanne's etc) offer project based sewing classes on site. You can also try Craigslist.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-09T21:50:22.633Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I wish I could be this badass...

comment by Camaragon · 2013-07-08T03:18:08.907Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have taken Home Ec in highscool and it barely had enough subtsance but only because they were doing it wrong, they taught us how to sew a button hole, fry an egg and screw in a lightbulb but not how to organize a house. I had only my shallow Home Ec book required for class which looks more like arts and crafts really. any books relating to Home Economics I have read is "At Your Sevice: Memoirs of a Majordomo by Desmond Atholl", a biography of a Majordomo who serviced many a celebrity and powerful clients. And while the usual 30 bedroom mansion he has to command and organize is definitely not my 2 bedroom apartment I still picked up a couple of vital things in keeping a home clean and in optimum condition.

A ideal home is basically Clean and Efficient, that is all there is to it. It's a verry personal thing so I can't tell you how or whether you should fold or hang your clothes since I don't know if you own a cabinet or a drawer or if it's even ideal to your bedroom arrangement. You can use your err.. Rationality? XD to figure most of it out and whatever you have problems with you can ask us. :] Also, just to be clear, I don't recomend the book. If it just takes too much time and effort figuring Home Ec, you should just hire your own Majordomo haha

Suprisingly interesting topic. Like how a disorganized book collection, which you might take more time finding the book rather than reading it, should be organized. The homes we live in should follow the same if not better treatment since we wake up in it everyday, for most people it's also where they spend the most money. I wish they tackled these in HS Home Ec :c

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-09T12:32:33.791Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have taken Subject X in Ycool and it barely had enough subtsance but only because they were doing it wrong.

facepalm Why is it always the same problem? Absolutely no one seems happy with schools! They aren't optimized for anything! Waaahahahhhyyyy?

you might take more time finding the book rather than reading it

It'd have to be a mighty short book, mind you :P I'd rather say that it might take too much time for me to bother looking for it in the first place, or, in the worst cases, I might forget about its existence wholesale.

comment by juliawise · 2013-07-10T02:11:42.545Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I recommend the Cooks Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen family of cookbooks, because they test something like 40 variations of a recipe/technique and give you the one that works best. (They don't optimize for cost or nutrition, though, just tastiness.)

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-09T12:04:16.398Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

On the topic of Debt, I'd like to quite this interesting piece from Steven Marshall's blog (he posts here as lionhearted, he's a pretty cool guy, eh makes money and doesn't afraid of nothing):

You're American, yes? Okay, do you have a credit score? If not, here's the easiest way to get one. Go to your bank, put a small amount of money in a certificate of deposit, and get a secured loan against it that pays off automatically. Basically, the CD will pay you 2% interest or whatever, and the secured loan will cost 3% interest... so if you put $1,000 into the CD, you lose $10 to do this, but it massively increases your credit score (it's automatic payment of revolving credit, which is good for a few reasons - I won't get into the exact details, just trust me and do it). You can do it with as low as $100 I reckon, I did it with a $1000 and it was good. After a few months of this, you'll have an established credit history. I'd recommend you apply for the Amazon credit card, which gives a big discount on books, so you can get $50 of free books or something. Then you get points which you can use for more free books later. Much later on, when you have higher spending, you'll probably want an AMEX gold card, but secured loan + Amazon credit card is probably enough for now. Do this ASAP, I lost a lot of money once when I couldn't get a mortgage on a very good buy because I didn't have a credit history. Trust me on this. By the time you start thinking of needing credit, it's too late to build it. Do it now.

Never, ever, ever get into debt. Just don't do it. If you have debt (student loans, credit cars, etc), pay them off as soon as you have any cash at all. Debt is okay for a mortgage on a house, and that's about it. I think education debt is a bad idea personally, and that universities exploit young people who don't understand the value of money yet, but I'm in the minority on that. Maybe take university debt if you need to, but much better to save and pay cash if possible. If you take on debt, absolutely no buying toys or partying with your money until your debt is paid off. Debt cripples a man's ability to do what he wants with his life. Stay away from it at all costs.

What do you guys think of this, US Citizens and others? My dad used to go even further than this, he always taught me one should at least try to live with only half one's income (after taxes) and invest the rest in savings. As a result, we've lived in pretty shoddy conditions for the last couple of decades, but we have gained a lot in terms of freedom and security, compared to families of similar income who spent most of it in consumer goods.

comment by gjm · 2013-07-09T12:42:33.944Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with Steven Marshall and with your father. (I am a US citizen but living elsewhere.) Living on about half your income, on fairly plausible assumptions about the present and future performance of the economy, gives you good prospects of being able to retire nice and early. At which point, of course, you don't have to retire -- you may enjoy your work too much, or feel obliged to give a lot of money to charities, or have the urge to get rich rather than merely comfortable -- but knowing that your employer no longer has the ability to dump you into poverty is a big deal. Even before that point, you have much more ability to (e.g.) choose a job you'll enjoy, take longer about finding a new job after an old one ends, etc.

I have the impression (based on insufficient evidence, and I'll listen gladly if others tell me I'm wrong) that this sort of advice is particularly needed in the US, where there is a strong culture of credit-based conspicuous consumption.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-09T13:03:22.744Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

knowing that your employer no longer has the ability to dump you into poverty is a big deal.

This is the crux of the matter: being free to do what you want with your life, and feeling safe and secure at the office. This will allow you such luxuries as freely speaking your mind, refusing unethical orders, privileging actual professional accomplishment over the appearance thereof, not feeling threatened by the success of your peers and being able to help and collaborate with them freely, and so on.

comment by gjm · 2013-07-09T13:16:40.364Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. Though, psychologically, many people may in fact have trouble refusing orders, not feeling threatened by more visibly successful peers, etc., even if they're secure enough financially that they're in no real danger of poverty.

comment by advancedatheist · 2013-07-08T23:29:52.485Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Virginia Postrel points to the advantages of having extra stuff during economic downturns. Using clothing as an example, she argues that having a full closet makes you more economically resilient because it gives you a form of savings which you can draw upon when you have to cut expenses.


comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-09T10:21:10.426Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There is merit to that idea. But what about expenses that just evaporate? Going to restaurants and ordering food? Clubbing and drinking? Buying decorative merchandise (to give a fictional example, I find myself appalled by how few books and how many incredibly expensive DC and Star Trek paraphernalia there are at Sheldon's house... though I suppose there is a reselling network on eBay and among collectors)? Taking immature-hedonist holidays where nothing is learned and no value is added to the self? Luxury food of little added nutritional value? Taxi fares?

comment by elharo · 2013-07-09T10:51:09.048Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Taxi fares can be incredibly efficient if they avoid the cost of car ownership. They also save time in locations where parking spaces are scarce and taxis are plentiful.

Of course there are also times and places where a personal auto, a rental car, or public transit may be the more rational choice. I've used all of the above at different times and places. But I certainly don't place taxis in the same class as Star Trek paraphernalia and fancy restaurant meals.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-14T05:36:01.789Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is a great post! Haha. I only recently found out can cook brocoli, carrot, beans, lentils and even rice with just water and a microwave safe container in the microwave!

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2013-07-08T03:00:06.860Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW · GW

no less than 215 physical books

I am sad that someone can apparently consider this to be a large amount.

Home ec was not an elective where I went to school; three hours a week, and you didn't bring a lunch that day - you ate what you cooked.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-08T06:16:42.572Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I am sad that someone can apparently consider this to be a large amount.

But I am only twenty-four, and these all belong to me! Also, it's definitely a large amount because I haven't read most of them. Buying more books than you can read is bad, I should stop it.

comment by elharo · 2013-07-08T12:12:03.945Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Public libraries are incredibly cool. Not only do you get books for free, as many as you want. When you're done you can return the books to the library and they will store them for you so you eliminate clutter!

comment by Morendil · 2013-07-08T07:46:08.640Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Buying more books than you can read is bad, I should stop it.

Where did you get that idea? Read "How to Justify a Private Library" by Umberto Eco, summarized here.

comment by ikrase · 2013-07-08T08:12:14.933Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

They're excellent for signalling purposes, too.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-09T12:49:40.229Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've finished classifing them in UDC in an excel file, but once they and the shelves are properly labeled, it will signal "these books are for research" and "this guy is a nerd".

And while a large part of the titles is fiction, the largest part of the economic value, and, most importantly, in the expected time spent is either school-related books (for example, Introduction to Heat Transfer, by Frank M. White or Digital Signall Processing, by John G. Proakis), which are in the €60 price range or more, talk-about-one--topic-in-depth books (like Christian Salmon's Storytelling, or Gavin Weightman's Industrial Revolutionaries, or Daniel Canehman's Thinking, fast and slow), which tend to be in the €20 to €30 price range.

Really, buying a book might be somehow like buying a stock option; you buy the right to spend a resource (time and effort) on a book at your own leisure, rather than being constrained by the duty to give it back, or limits on how many you can take at once. And, when your time is valuable, the expected expense in time can have a dramatically larger value than the preliminary expense in coin... This would be an interesting topic to tackle...

comment by hylleddin · 2013-07-08T23:25:10.376Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I find that the internet is generally better indexed, though I suppose that if you can afford it, a large enough private library could give more easily accessible depth. I also suspect that, like me, most people here with many more books than they have read have libraries that are composed mostly of fiction, which is less useful for research purposes.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-09T12:56:34.469Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't buy fiction anymore, unless it's by Terry Pratchett or if it's Classics I Should Have Read Already, like stuff by Asimov or Dostoievsky, but those are usually extremely cheap if not free. No, I have my plate full with fanfiction, especially pony fics. I just can't keep up...

comment by MrMind · 2013-07-08T07:43:27.352Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Buying more books than you can read is bad, I should stop it.

And yet it's a vice that many enjoy, I'm surely one of them, but I remember at least three quotes about buying books, of which only these I can attribute with certainty:

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." (Erasmus of Rotterdam)

"When I think of all the books still left for me to read, I am certain of further happiness." (Jules Renard)

comment by wedrifid · 2013-07-08T09:17:22.505Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." (Erasmus of Rotterdam)

The invention of the internet might have changed his priorities.

comment by advancedatheist · 2013-07-08T20:35:20.850Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Erasmus lived a generation after the invention of printing, but books still cost a lot relative to people's incomes back then because he lived too near the beginning of the experience curve in book production. He probably had highly developed mnemonic skills to memorize books in libraries.

comment by Error · 2013-07-08T12:02:03.807Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Around a year ago I designated a shelf just for books I hadn't read yet, so that when I felt like reading I had a very obvious place to go. It seems to help with the buying-things-and-not-reading-them bit.

(currently I'm reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

comment by gjm · 2013-07-08T15:47:42.359Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The bad news is that over time you are likely to find that your to-read bookshelf grows until it turns into a to-read bookcase, then multiple to-read bookcases. The good news is that you are unlikely to run out of interesting things to read.

comment by Error · 2013-07-08T16:09:07.262Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That last actually aggravates me. There are way more interesting things to read than I have time for. I always feel like I'm Missing Something.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-09T12:53:00.282Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

One of the reasons I hope for Transhuman brain enhancements is the ability to read books fast enough that I can finish my perpetually-growing and increasingly-menacing personal library in my lfetime.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-09T13:12:03.589Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have a general proof that people who like reading will never get caught up.

Any technological improvement which makes it possible to read and understand faster will also make it possible to write faster.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-07-09T13:28:47.405Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have a general proof that people who like reading will never get caught up.

Any technological improvement which makes it possible to read and understand faster will also make it possible to write faster.

That isn't a proof. It is easily possible for a technoloical improvement to reading accompanying a technological improvement to writing speed to result in catching up. Diminishing writing speed related returns on reading speed improvement for example...

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-07-09T15:42:28.090Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, it isn't a perfect proof. However, what are the odds (considering how many people are writing compared to any specific reader) that increasing reading speed will enable writers to research, proofread, copy edit, and revise faster?

I leave the possibility open that proofreading and copy editing will be neglected, but I think research and revising are enough to matter.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-07-09T16:21:11.990Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, it isn't a perfect proof. However, what are the odds (considering how many people are writing compared to any specific reader) that increasing reading speed will enable writers to research, proofread, copy edit, and revise faster?

Nearly certain, but the point is that even outright assuming certainty doesn't lead to the conclusion. Odds aren't the issue, relative degree of improvement is. For example if writing_time is equal to some multiple of reading_time plus a 'creative effort' constant and reading speed improves sufficiently then someone will be able to read all of the books despite a drastically and ongoing increase in books written.

comment by Ritalin · 2013-07-09T13:14:08.965Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

do not want