24 May 2010
Day 58: The Atlantis Code
"Sometimes you don't have to actually have possession of a thing to learn from it. Sometimes it's enough simply to know it exists." Page 69.
This sort of reminded me of the "Is an antelope a document" discussion we had in library school. It's one of those endless arguments where you only "win" if your side of the argument is better than whoever it is you're arguing with. In this case, I think I'll have a one-sided argument with Mr. Brokaw, here.
Possession of something does not exactly lend itself to real, comprehensive knowledge. Of course, you can look at the documentations or examine your data that something exists. But unless you actually encounter the artifact or experience the sensation, the benefits of "knowing" that something exists are almost negligible. Our brains are not really wired to wrap around concepts, that's why the study of philosophy is so important (so that we can exercise that particular brainy muscle group). When it comes down to it though, we are tactile and emotional creatures; we are becoming conceptual creatures, especially as more of our world moves online. But we still experience the world primarily through the "touch" and "feel" method, or the poke and emote, if you will.
If you think about it, there are not a whole lot of new concepts in the world. Even our most fantastical creatures -- our boogeymen, mythical creatures, nightmares, dreams, etc. -- are composites of other animals or experiences. This means that the whole, "There's nothing to fear but fear itself" bit is all well and good, but nothing scares the crap out of us like a huge rabid dog that has us backed into a corner with snarling, slobbering blood-covered teeth. We may be afraid of the shadows, but that has more to do with what we know the shadows can hide.
Aaaaaaand that's why cover letters are such bull shit. Boiling myself down to a piece of paper does not give you any idea of how hard I work, or how competent I am. You might see that I worked three different jobs during my last year of graduate studies, or that I packed in a job, three classes, writing my senior project, and running all over campus while coordinating philosophy club (which was out of my area of study, by the way). But this tells you that I can pack in a lot of activity during a short period of time to put good things on my resume. And what about my apparent job hopping, that whole thing where I'm at an internship for 4 months and then I hop back to my library job at Antioch. Very unusual. But that was part of the program, any Antioch College student's work history will look like that! And yeah, there's some extra stuff in there with me moving around or working temp jobs.
But I am not a document. I contain more information about my merits and demerits than anything I could possibly create, or that could possibly be created by me. So why do we think that putting ourselves on paper is the best way to hire someone? And who in their right mind thinks a job description is a good way to decide if this is the right job?