First Latin Progress Update

So, it’s been a little over a month since I sat down and filled out my own copy of the ‘motivation worksheet‘ here on the blog, and I thought it was time for a brief update.

First things first: Latin is still going, but not always going strong. I’ve noticed that it’s a good bit of concentration to do some Latin exercises, requiring a bit of prep (get everything out, clean up a workspace) and time with few interruptions. I don’t think my motivation has waned, but the newness certainly has. And, with it, the number of days per week I invest in Latin.

That said, I’m still going. Something that’s really worked well for me has been the rule that I have to do my exercises on Memrise before I look at Facebook. That gives me a decent ‘bare minimum’ so that I know that I’m not wasting the day, and I’ve done okay at that.

However, Memrise is not enough to actually make progress. Something that’s helped me — and this shouldn’t surprise anyone — is invented (and expensive) social pressure. I selected Chegg almost at random from the sites that offered online tutoring and started making appointments with a woman in England who’s studying classics. She corrects the exercises I do during the day and answers my questions, giving me little lessons and pointers. (She, however, also thinks I’m crazy for wanting to speak Latin. Apparently I’m a decade or two too late for that craze.)

What has not worked is the idea of getting up early to start my day with Latin. It’s a long-term goal, but when I get up early, it’s to prepare myself in a state of panic for the coming day. I’d like to make that part of my routine, and that seems like the part of the day that I can best set aside for myself, but, I don’t know.

I don’t know if I have a takeaway from all this for my language students. First, obviously, it’s hard. I’m a professional and I know how important the ‘a little every day’ aspect is, but I just find it insanely difficult to make the time. Second, bundling works: the only thing that I’ve been able to stick to consistently is combining Memrise with Facebook.

But, on the other hand, I think that I’m convinced that the method I set out for myself does work: experiment, but set reminders to go back and reflect upon how it’s going. I’ll be setting another reminder for in a month. We’ll see.

The Public Dataset Business Idea

Here’s a funny fact about me: I like to come up with business ideas. Some of them I play around with for a while, others I know are outside of my own league. Until now, I’ve never actually started a business, though I’ve started (and abandoned) a number of themed websites.

Recently, I had a couple of good business ideas. One I might play with on my own, the other I’m happy to share with anyone who is looking for a project to play with.

The idea is to create a freely available dataset made up of a huge collection of survey data. Without looking into the feasibility of this, the idea is that people could take surveys on a website or via an app (and either get email invites or notifications via the app to try some more questions). Ideally, people would be motivated to take part in the project because it’s easy to do and it’s nice to think that you’re somehow ‘furthering knowledge.’ Additionally, there could be prizes or rewards provided (perhaps you’re entered to win something, or, if you’re in an important target demographic, you’re bribed outright.)

The business would make money by selling people and organization the possibility of including questions.

Do you want to know if people who own an xbox also play games on android phones? Pay x amount to have the survey include at least ten thousand participants with xboxes and their responses to the android phone question.

Are you a psychology student who wants to know if people who have watched a violent movie in the last 24 hours are more or less likely to brainstorm ‘empathetic’ keywords when they’re presented with an image? There will be an equation to figure that out, and the survey platform will ask enough people whether or not they’ve seen a violent movie in the last 24 hours to get enough responses to the second question.

I like the idea, because I’m a fan of public datasets. And because I think that people would be motivated to take part in a project knowing that the dataset would eventually be public.

I’m not going to pursue the project because the mathematics end of it is far beyond my own abilities and so I’m setting the idea free into the world. It’s yours if you want it.