Around the Web: The science of “practice makes perfect”, Are Asians the new Jews at Ivies? and more

While this blog is where most of my content goes, from time to time, I’ve written articles for other websites and it’s nice to be able to share those with you. Here are five articles ranging from neuroscience, higher education, digitization, fitness, and personal development for you to enjoy!

~ Jason

Buffer – Why practice actually makes perfect: How to rewire your brain for better performance

rewireOne of my favorite blogs out there is run by the social sharing app Buffer. As many of you know, I’m very passionate about behavior change, new skill acquisition, and research on improvement. So a few months ago I did some research on how practice actually changes the way our brains work and how a fatty tissue called myelin super-charges our neural connections. My post was published on the Buffer blog and then picked up by Lifehacker, which is always a neat thing.

A quote from the post:

One compelling piece of evidence comes from brain scans of expert musicians. There’s been a lot of research done on how musician brains differ from the brains of ordinary people – and one specific study used a particular brain scan called Diffusion MRI, which gives us information about tissues and fibers inside the scan region in an non-invasive way.

The study suggested that the estimated amount of practice an expert piano player did in childhood and adolescence, was correlated with the white matter density in regions of the brain related to finger motor skills, visual and auditory processing centers, and others — compared to regular people. And most significantly was that there was a directly correlation between how many hours they practiced and how dense their white/myelin matter was. [4]

Read more on the science of practice here.

Quora – Are Asians the new Jews at the Ivies?

quora logoA minor firestorm emerged in higher education in 2013 around the idea that Asian Americans face an unequal admissions criteria when applying to top tier colleges, an idea backed with a lot of data by Ron Unz in The American Conservative. I was asked to answer a question on Quora that asked if Asians were in fact the “new Jews”. It became the top voted answer with around 268 upvotes at the time this round up was published.

A quote from my answer:

Asian Americans are the fastest growing minority group in America, doubling between 1992 – 2011 and yet the percentage of enrollment went down at Harvard? And it went down more than the Jewish enrollment went down after quotas were installed in 1920’s? And we can rule out the possibility of lower quality Asian applicants, as enrollment in equally competitive Caltech went up?

That is crazy sketchy.

Read my entire answer on Quora here.

Smithsonian – Unpacking Our Treasures: An Introduction to the Smithsonian Transcription Center

SI large colorI’m about 2.5 months into the Presidential Innovation Fellowship at the Smithsonian and we’re continuing to iterate on our project, The Smithsonian Transcription Center. One of the big challenges with a crowdsourcing project is helping contributors understand the value and meaning of their efforts. This post is one attempt to capture some of the value of transcribing our nation’s most treasured materials:

Across every museum, archive, and library, Smithsonian staff are hard at work digitizing our wonderful collection materials, with the goal of preserving and making accessible the millions of documents, specimens, and artifacts that represent our nation’s heritage, our world cultures and our diverse planet.

But what happens after we digitize something? With a mission of “the increase and diffusion of knowledge“, we at the Smithsonian are always looking for ways to make our efforts more useful and informative to researchers and members of the public.

Read my blog post on the Smithsonian’s Collection Search Center blog

Outside Magazine Photoshoot

outside magazine photoshoot jason shen

Once a year, Outside Magazine does a photoshoot with “regular people” instead of models, and this year, they chose to feature techies who lead active lives. They scoured Silicon Valley for competitive triathletes, ultramarathoners, and … me. I guess everyone else in the Mashable Fittest People in Tech list were too busy =P  Anyway, it was fun to run around San Francisco and talk about why many startup / tech people are into fitness. Plus I got to keep the suit and shoes from the photoshoot!

Double Agents: Superhero Athletes of the Tech Industry

Life Long Learner – Self-Improvement and Behavior Change With Jason Shen

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 12.35.34 AMScott Britton is a startup biz dev guy and runs a blog called Life Long Learner on productivity and personal development. He started a little interview series and I was honored to come on the “show” to talk about rejection therapy, habit formation, the evolution of willpower and other fun topics.

Check out my interview with Scott.

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Jason Shen

Jason is a tech entrepreneur and advocate for Asian American men. He's written extensively and spoken all over the world about how individuals and organizations develop their competitive advantage. Follow him at @jasonshen.

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