I spent two weeks in May teaching a bunch of extremely enthusiastic kids economics and statistics. When I say extremely, I am not exaggerating. Somebody said their raised hands in response to questions that were asked in class were akin to popcorn going off in a pressure cooker, and I assure you that this is not hyperbole.
And when I say kids, I’m not exaggerating either. The youngest was in the 8th grade or standard, and the oldest was just about to enter their tenth grade/standard. Anyways, a lot of fun was had, and I hope I get to do this again.
I taught the kids two different one week long courses. One was on economics, and the other was on statistics. But along with these two courses, there were lots of other courses on offer, and one of them happened to be on AI/ML, taught by the excellent Navin Kabra. People like Navin can single handedly present excellent arguments for remaining on Twitter, and I would strongly recommend that you follow him if you are on Twitter.
During one of the many excellent conversations I had with him, he brought up an essay, and asked me if I had read it. The title is “Camels and Rubber Duckies“, and I hadn’t read it. But with a title like that, how could I keep away from it?
It’s a wonderful read, and I would strongly encourage you to read it, no matter how good your microeconomics basics are. It is engagingly written, liberally sprinkled with oddball humor, and explains a lot of concepts in microeconomics without making the subject boring. And trust me, this is difficult to do.
Here are my notes for having read it:
- Follow along with a spreadsheet and try and run the simple exercises yourself.
- He actually uses the word Visicalc, which is a lovely little rabbit hole in its own right
- The old Excel charts generate so much nostalgia. I’d forgotten the dull as death grey backgrounds, and the horribly jarring pink and blue colors.
- The law of demand, the calculation of profits, the maximization of profits, the meaning of consumer surplus, segmentation, inelastic demand, coupons, opportunity costs – and best of all, real world problems that occur when it comes to pricing software, all have been wonderfully explained.
- Focus groups and market research are also explained intuitively
- I realize this is a post from 2004, but he talks of RSS feeds and RSS readers! I shall use this opportunity to once again lament the passing away of Google Reader, the best social networking site cum RSS reader there ever was.
- Besides writing about camels and rubber duckies to help explain economics, he’s also come up with some products you’ve heard of, such as Trello, or Stack Overflow. Joel Spolsky is a person you want to learn more about.