Archive for the ‘sketches’ Category

October 3 2008

Access and world views

by Hang

One of the increasingly dismaying things I see in the world today is an increase in political cynicism. A sense that not only are the rich/powerful/republicans/liberals out to get you, that their entire purpose in life is to out to get you. I have a hard time taking on this world view because, inevitably, at every level of society I meet, most people genuinely believe that they are doing good. They’re aware that other people might hold different views of them but they believe that they’ve been misunderstood and they’re doing the best job they can.

I believe the fundamental difference is one of access. There’s a feeling of powerlessness and alienation when you view a group that you oppose as “the other”, a society in which you will never gain access. To many people, it’s simply become inconcievable that they could have anything to do with a investment banker or a neo-conservative power broker. These levels of society are locked out to them. On the other hand, the belief that you could gain access to any level of society radically changes how you view the forces of power. This is not to say that I could pick up the phone and call the sultan of brunei or anything but that I’ve met the people who have met the people who are reputed to hold the reins of power in many fields and the consistent message is that there is no conspiracy. It’s simply a tragedy of good men trying to do the best to uphold what they believe.

It’s so easy to blame societies problems on evil forces lurking in the hearts of powerful men. The solution then becomes simple, remove the powerful men, destroy the evil and the world will be a better place. It’s much harder to understand how people who think of themselves as good could end up doing what you think of as evil.

October 3 2008

Collaborative job interviewing

by Hang

Why don’t we apply the collaborative filtering approach to finding the right job candidate?

Here’s a simple model of how it could work for say, a network engineer:

Any and every potential candidate is invited to submit potential questions to ask which they think could seperate out a good network engineer from a bad network engineer over the course of a 24 hour period.

Once these questions are accumulated, all candidates are split into two groups and given one hour to use a collaborative voting system to determine which questions they feel are the best ones.

Each group gives the top n questions to the other group and they both have 3 hours to complete the test.

Each group now collaboratively marks the other group. A right answer is one which concurs with the answers of those who got the most right answers. In the end, the top 5 people with the highest score from each group are selected for a in depth interview.

Is this approach better than the typical HR keyword search based weeding approach? Is it robust enough to efficiently weed out the poor candidates while pushing the good ones to be great? It seems like an interesting experiment to me.

September 11 2008

Awesome comments

by Hang

Some commenting systems allow you to rate comments. But they display the total rating on ever comment.

Awesome comments goes from 1 – 5 and then “awesome” which is after 100 votes. To the user, it’s unknown if upvoting a +5 comment will push it into awesome or not.

September 7 2008

BrainVM

by Hang

Reading Stumbling on Happiness right now and it strikes me how much the brain could be improved with modern computer architecture design. So much of the brain is running on base hardware which is fast but brittle and inflexible. Allowing for a reasonable degree of introspection in the API would allow us to simulate this process using a simple virtual machine architecture.

August 29 2008

The failure modes of fear of failure

by Hang

The two failure modes for smart people who are afraid of confronting failure is to either consistently take on low risk/low reward tasks or high risk/high reward tasks.

The low risk/low reward route is well recognized. Smart people who are accustomed to and depend on praise will consistently perform well below their level such that they are guaranteed success. The high risk/high reward phenomena is one I have seen less talked about.

When the risk is high, failure is expected and can be safely blamed on chance circumstances and the nature of the task. In the meantime, the rare success can be trumpeted as a mark of true skill. After realizing this, cases of when this occurs become obvious. Smart people will often deliberately up the ante and multiply contingencies upon contingencies and then when they fail, the excuse is “at least I tried”.

The true mark of talent is to perform difficult things consistently and without drama.

August 21 2008

Universal undo

by Hang

Why is universal undo supported by so few text editors? When I close a file, the text editor erases my entire undo history. Being able to undo a file all the way to the very first keystroke I typed in would be a really compelling feature to me.

In fact, what I want source control to be still is a giant unified universal undo for my project. Don’t bother me with releases and versioning, just log my actions on a per keystroke level and let me revert back to the second before I fucked up.

I understand the technical challenges of implementing this and how more formal version control scales better to more complex projects but I still crave the ability to mark a folder as being under universal undo with a super lightweight mechanism.

August 20 2008

aTheists and atheists

by Hang

aTheist = not believing in Gods, ie: Jehovah, Allah, Vishnu
atheist = not believing in gods, invisible men who we need to be looking down at us for our actions to make sense.

Christians have atheists pegged pretty well. They’re rightfully terrified of them because atheists are pretty scary people. They make the mistake of not realizing that most people who claim to be atheists are really aTheists.

Is aTheism a stable state though? The mental gymnastics that keep Christians from turning aTheist are the same ones that stop an aTheist from becoming atheist.

August 15 2008

HCI and blogging

by Hang

How do we apply HCI and UCD processes to blogging?

Faceted blogging was a HCI inspired idea, what else?

Would personas help?

August 15 2008

Comprehension as a long tail

by Hang

Like everything else, does understanding follow a long tail model? The first 90% of stuff is easy to understand and then ever increasing understanding is increasingly hard to comprehend?

August 11 2008

Forward motion

by Hang

Forward motion is important psychlogically. It’s been incredibly hard getting forward motion for this blog as of late. I have half a dozen unfinished posts sitting on my harddrive. Is the lack of an audience a problem? Does lack of an audience cause the elastic user problem?

Idea: apply hci principles to blogging and come up with personas.

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