Meta those who can’t

I’ve been meaning to write a version of the aphorism “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach” to say something derogatory about metadata. Something like “those who can, code; those who can’t, twitter about standards.” But it doesn’t flow and like the “teach” version, is highly contestable. Plus, I’m projecting.

However, I realized that the general pattern of this aphorism is that those who can’t, do something “meta” relative to those who can, e.g., an extension of “teach” is “… those who can’t teach, administrate.”

Presumably those who can’t administrate, run for school board. And those who can’t write a pointed aphorism, write about aphorisms.

All of the “can’t” statements are metadata about a subject that does something more meta than the things he can’t do.

So I got my metadata out of it after all.

6 Responses

  1. What separates professionals from amateurs is often not the conceptual subject matter, but the mundane details of *doing* the job. I once heard a general say something like, “armchair generals think about battle strategy, but real generals think about supply lines.”

    So those who only “meta” have some combination of intellectual curiosity and laziness. They always want to play with the “interesting” questions while avoiding the day-to-day work. Naturally, they will probably end-up less “useful”. This tendency declines with age, I think.

  2. […] I am particularly amused that DeCoster wrote on I used to have a love/hate relationship with this and its sister site, Trenchant and extreme anti-war and anti-government commentary, including against intellectual protectionism. But the occasional Christian apologia, pro-apartheid writers, and general nuts really put me off. Then there’s the despicable Hoppe. Fortunately I am able to no longer care. There are many substitutes on the topics those sites were good on, and I am mostly convinced by Bryan Caplan on Austrian economics that the school does not just appear to be an ignorable backwater, it is. Part of Caplan’s conclusion reminds me yet again of the perils of meta: Neoclassical economists go too far by purging meta-economics almost entirely, but there is certainly a reason to be suspicious of scholars who talk about economics without ever doing it. […]

  3. jim reddy says:

    “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach and those who can ‘t do or teach, preach”

  4. jim,

    amen to that!

  5. […] in metadata is one of the least harmful things the industry might do. Not that I don’t think metadata is great or anything. Wendy Seltzer / CC […]

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