Learning Curves

I keeping thinking about the idea of a learning curve, but I only realized this morning that the phrase is a little strange. When we say that something has “a steep learning curve” we mean it’s difficult to master, but if the curve measures learning versus time, then isn’t a steep one good?

Steep Learning Curve

What I think we actually mean is “how quickly I have to learn in order to accomplish anything useful”. If someone has to learn a lot before they can do the things they want to do, they’re on the red curve below:

Know versus Do

The curve they want to be on is the green one, because “steep” means “a little new knowledge lets me accomplish many things”. Training can help make a badly-designed tool more accessible, but the best lessons in the world can’t turn the red curve into the green one.

In the wake of posts about Shopify's support for white nationalists and DataCamp's attempts to cover up sexual harassment
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