Friday, August 11, 2017
What's the opposite of an artist?
So often a day late and a dollar short, I just saw among the "most read features" in the New York Times one called "What Is Your Opposite Job?" Somebody thought to tap into the Labor Department's breakdown of the skills and tasks required for every job, and make an interactive feature where you can enter your job and learn the "polar opposite."
Not sure why you would want to know this, although the article suggests that "breaking a job into its component parts helps us look beyond the obvious and think clearly about the things that people actually do."
So I typed "quilter" into the box, and got no results. Apparently nothing starting with Q is on the Labor Department's list of occupations. Typed "sewing" in and chose "sewing machine operator" and when I selected that, my opposite job popped up -- chief executive! Ouch! So perhaps that explains why my corporate career stopped three levels away from CEO -- it was because my sewist's "ability to quickly and precisely adjust controls on a machine" is hardly ever used by CEOs. (Maybe that's why my personal CEO always had to holler for his secretary to retrieve his voice mail.)
Intrigued, I tried "fine artist, including painter, sculptor and illustrator" and "craft artist" -- and the opposite job for each of these was physicist. Apparently "thinking creatively," "originality," "visualization" and "fluency of ideas," all skills that artists allegedly use the most, mean nothing in physics. (Tell that to Einstein.)
But then I scrolled back to the top of the article and found these teasers: "The opposite job of a kindergarten teacher is a physicist." "The opposite job of a chief executive is an agricultural grader (whatever that is)."
So following the rules of logic, if this algorithm has any substance to it, you would expect that "fine artist," "craft artist" and "kindergarten teacher" all have the same skill set, and that "sewing machine operator" and "agricultural grader (whatever that is)" have the same skill set. Hmmm. Actually when you look at the skill lists, artists and teachers have zero items in common. Kindergarten teachers, for instance, apparently have "geography" and "philosophy and theology" among their top ten skills, whereas you may have noticed most artists don't.
On the other hand, it gives me, and perhaps many other sewing machine operators, a certain degree of comfort to know that this is our polar opposite: