Quotes On The Limitations of Cleverness

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

A couple of quotes on the limitations of cleverness. Don’t just be clever, be kind and make  things of beauty with care.

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“Now goblins are cruel, wicked, and bad-hearted.
They make no beautiful things, but they make many clever ones.”
J. R. R. Tolkien “The Hobbit

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“Don’t be satisfied with being merely clever.
Make something beautiful.”
John Cook “Don’t be a Goblin

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“The customer does not give a damn about your cleverness, the algorithms you have implemented, or your credentials. The customer cares only about satisfying their own need.”
Ken Imboden in “Ken Imboden on Lessons from MMC, Candlestick, and NuSym

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Don’t be seduced by the cleverness of your own ideas. This was the single biggest mistake I made. I came up with a truly clever idea…and I was justifiably proud of it. But it caused too many problems. [It] turned out to be clumsy to use. Most players eschewed it. I should have had the courage to dump a clever idea that, in the final analysis, created more problems than it solved. I didn’t, and the game suffered for it.
Chris CrawfordLessons from Patton Strikes Back

See also “Better is the Enemy of Good Enough

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“My grandfather looked at me, and after a bit of silence, he gently and calmly said, “Jeff, one day you’ll understand that it’s harder to be kind than clever.”

“What I want to talk to you about today is the difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy — they’re given after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you’re not careful, and if you do, it’ll probably be to the detriment of your choices.”

from “We are What We Choose” Remarks by Jeff Bezos, as delivered to the Princeton Class of 2010

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“The surest way to be cheated is to think oneself cleverer than other people.”
La Rochefoucauld

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