Deep Work by Cal Newport

My notes of the new book of Cal Newport. He is a writer and a professor of computer science at Georgetown University.

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship.

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Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.

Shallow Work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.

The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.

Two core abilities for thriving in the New Economy: And the two depend on your ability to perform Deep Work.

1- The ability to quickly master hard things: To learn requires intense concentration. Deliberate Practice requires focused attention: (a) your attention is focused tightly on a specific skill you’re trying to improve or an idea you’re trying to master, (b) you receive feedback so you can correct your approach to keep your attention exactly where it’s most productive.

2- The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed: Law of Productivity: High-Quality Work Produced= (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus). To produce at your peek level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction.

The principle of least resistance: In a business setting, without clear feedback on the impact of various behaviors to the bottom line, we will tend toward behaviors that are easiest in the moment.

Busyness as Proxy for Productivity: In the absence of clear indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable in their jobs, many knowledge workers turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of stuff in a visible manner.

Depth will become increasingly rare and therefore increasingly valuable. The myopia of your peers and employers uncovers a great personal advantage for you to systematically develop your personal ability to go deep – and by doing so, reap great rewards.


1 – Work Deeply:

Decide on your philosophy on depth, Ritualize (where and how long, how you’ll work one you started, how you’ll support your work), Execute (Focus on the wildly important, Act on lead measures, Keep a compelling scoreboard, Create a cadence of accountability), Be lazy with the non important and shutdown regularly.

2 – Embrace Boredom

Allow creative moment to happen. People who multitask all the time can’t filter out irrelevancy, they’re can’t manage a working memory, they’re chronically distracted. They initiate much larger parts of the brain that are irrelevant to the task at hand. Your ability to concentrate is only as strong as your commitment to train it.

3 – Quit Social Media

The any-benefit approach to network tool selection: you’re justified in using a network tool if you can identify any possible benefit to its use, or anything you might possibly miss out on if you don´t use it. The problem is that this ignores all the negatives that come along with the tools in question. Some glimpse of potential benefit as justification for unrestrained use of a tool.

The craftsman approach to tool selection: identify the core factors that determine success and happiness in your professional and personal life. Adopt a tool only if its positive impacts on these factors substantially outweigh its negative impacts.

4 – Drain the Shallows

Schedule every minute, even moments for uncertainties. Quantify the depth of every activity. Keep a shallow budget. Have a fixed-schedule productivity. Become hard to reach.


El sistema ReCaptcha – Crowdsourcing

Seguro que se encontraron en algunas páginas que tienen este sistema de seguridad de ReCaptcha, que básicamente es para saber que la entidad que está atrás de una computadora es una persona o una máquina que hace spam.

Entonces este sistema, te pide que vos escribas la palabra que lees en la pantalla, para que pases al siguiente paso.  Así se corrobora que es una persona que está identificando y entendiendo cuál es la palabra.

Hay un magia atrás de esto.

¿Qué pasa con la otra palabra?

Les cuento, generalmente vienen dos palabras en la imagen. De las cuales, una es conocida en la base de datos que contiene la imagen y la otra se desconoce. Si vos acertás en esa palabra conocida, pasás a lo que sigue.

Les dije que la otra palabra es desconocida para la computadora, y entonces cuando recibe la información que vos le ponés, asocia esa palabra con la imagen. Y después se lo envía a otros usuarios, para que tambien reconozcan esa palabra.

Cuando son varios los usuarios que corroboran que lo se muestra en la imagen se traduce con ciertas letras escritas, se aprueba.

Esto es lo interesante. Una Persona o varias en este caso, leen una palabra confusa, que una máquina no puede leer. Entonces, se utiliza este “servicio”.

Resulta que los que se dedican a digitalizar libros o publicaciones, tienen el problema que la máquina no puede leer ciertas palabras. Por ejemplo, la imagen siguiente:

Y ahí se juntan las dos cosas.

Este fenómeno se llama “Crowdsourcing”, millones de personas “trabajan” con muy poquito esfuerzo para una gran causa, incluso sin saberlo. Son aproximadamente unos 10 segundos que cada persona dedica a escribir esta palabra.

Se resuelven unos 200 millones de CAPTCHAS por día, si bien no todos son con este sistema, es una buena idea para aprovechar ese trabajo. Ya que serían unas 150,000 horas de trabajo por día.  Es como tener una empresa con 18,000 personas trabajando 8 hrs, para transcribir las palabras que no se entienden.

Por ahora esto se está usando para digitalizar los libros en Google Books y ediciones viejas de New York Times.

Estamos contribuyendo al objetivo de Google, ” … organizar la información mundial y hacerla accesible y útil de manera universal… “