Shallow versus deep

Despite my desire at times to be otherwise, I am a shallow thinker – in the sense that my normal thought pattern is more lateral and connective than deep and focused. There are few things that I know deeply, but many things I understand superficially.

I hate not knowing something and yet feel satisfied once I have understood something sufficiently well to connect it to everything else I have stored away. Like most things, it is probably best to have a foot in both camps: the ability to process large amounts of information while capable of ‘going deep’ to focus when necessary.

In my experience, most people are in one camp or another. Yet, which mode is the most ideal?

A few things I have noticed:

  1. Shallow thinkers tend to be more social relative to their deep thinking peers. Many deep thinkers are even frustratingly asocial.
  2. Deep thinkers are rare whereas the world seems to abound in shallow thinkers.
  3. Both shallow thinkers and deep thinkers get something from the presence of the other. There is a certain excitable state that emerges when capable shallow and deep thinkers get together.
  4. Shallow thinkers seem more practical and action-oriented, while deep thinkers seem drawn more to the theoretical, or at the very least, they seem more content with the thinking versus the doing.

Which type of thinking are you most comfortable with?

I started thinking about this after viewing my Google Reader Trends:

From your 203 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 8,077 items, starred 491 items, shared 1 items, and emailed 45 items.

I am also reminded of the (humbling) description of the socionics type, the ENTP at Psychological Types uncovered from the Socionics people:

ENTps are very curious and process a lot of information, similar to a gold digger washing out the soil looking for gold. And ENTps know where the “gold” is. They are often well aware of some new and unusual discoveries. Such information is usually available to everyone who is interested enough to look for it, but not many people are that bothered. ENTps ideas are often based on these discoveries and for someone who didn’t know that these findings are already in existence, ENTps ideas may look very radical and original.

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  1. Chris! 8000 articles read in 30 days? You’re a machine! :-)