Posts in “People”

August 14, 2014

Read for Cash

Our “continuing education” program for employees can be summed up in one word: read.

Every year we pay our team to read business books. The financial incentive (15 cents / page) and requirements (the books are all pre-approved, the campaign lasts six weeks) lead people to read outside their normal interests and outside their normal job responsibilities.

In 2006 32 employees read 104 books; this year we had 151 participants read 485 books.

I encouraged everyone to contact the authors of the books they read simply to thank them for writing the book. 102 participants did, and two-thirds heard back from the author. (As quickly as within an hour, and most often with appreciation and a personal reply.)

To get paid, participants email a short review and star rating to the entire company. It can be as little as a sentence, but was often a thoughtful review with insights on how the lessons learned apply to our business. I read all 485 reports and was daily impressed with what a smart and interesting team I get to work with.

On a scale of 1 – Useless to 5 – Great Program, employees rated this year’s Read for Cash 4.5.

May 6, 2007

Karen Spärck Jones

Years ago I got up to speed on the field of information science by spending a couple days at a university library flipping through every journal in the field. I took each bound volume off the shelf in order and read the table of contents for each issue, and then every article that looked interesting.

Skimming 50+ years of journals is a great way to get an overview of a field – and to see some long term patterns. One of those patterns was Karen Spärck Jones, whose name seemed on to be on, or referenced by, many of the most helpful and interesting articles.
She was also the editor of Readings in Information Retrieval, which I was delighted to discover collected all the best articles in one handy volume.

I didn’t know anything else about her, though, until I saw her obituary today. It only served to impress me more. She developed and explored many concepts at the foundation of modern computing and won a stack of awards for a lifetime of achievement. All the more difficult, I imagine, in a field dominated by men. (“Computing is too important to be left to men,” she said in an interview this year.)

Karen Spärck Jones worked in language and information processing research for five decades, and if you have searched the Internet – or Logos Bible Software – you have been a beneficiary of her work.

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