All posts tagged philosophy

On occasion someone comes across something I have written and completely misses my point (despite covering it in often more ways than one). That person completely misses the attitude and approach I use. That person thinks I am either a hypercritical hard ass, unappreciative consumer or worse, a hypocrite. So often I have to clarify and correct whatever false assumption they made in order to get the point across.

When I tear apart a program or site and call it on its BS, I am also thinking that I should avoid those problems or errors in my own endeavors. Or I am recollecting memories of a time I did the same thing, and how it was now filed under “learning experience.” Also, people think that I do not look upon my own work with the same unforgiving eye for detail that I use when evaluating a piece of software or hardware. Sorry, wrong again: I am my own worse critic. When someone points something out that they think is stupid, I will either explain why it really isn’t because of X,Y and/or Z, or do something a lot of people have a hard time doing: agree with them whole heartedly, call myself a moron, and fix it if I can.

Hey we aren’t all perfect. And that’s another thing: I realize that no one is perfect, and when I point something out, I do not want to use it as a jumping off point for a person’s defense of themselves. I want to signal “hey this is good, but what I think would make it better is…” As a matter of fact, there is another post in the pipe about having to write verbosely (Mode Verbose) in order to prevent misunderstandings. It is about how writers often have to straddle, clarity and conciseness. If you detect a lot of wordiness and over explanation in my writing and do not see why I am beating a dead horse, than I apologize for wasting your time. I just do not want an expression of an idea to turn into a flamewar or dismissal (thus, missing the point) because I didn’t qualify a statement, and someone with less comprehension than you misunderstood. It is also one of the reasons I try to avoid making blanket statements and over-generalizations, such as prefacing or peppering my comments with words such as “the best,” “every,” “all,” “none,” and “never.”

Last, I tend to treat my opinions like science treats its theories: subject to change upon receiving new good information. I think this flexibility allows me to alter course quickly if I am about to make a mistake (If I see it in time). Some people think those that change their minds about something are weak-minded, and this might be true in some cases, but in mine and many others, I see it as a sign of strength. For some weird reason people think someone has to exhibit perfection in order to maintain credibility and confidence. That is not true: A person who is not bound so tightly to their beliefs, and doesn’t cling to them to give them a sense of self, has a stronger sense of identity. Think of it. Do you know who you are and only feel secure if your world is one defined by external forces, knit into one stable zeitgeist? Or do you define yourself, and revise that person daily to adapt to an every-changing worldview? I fall into the latter category because there is also such a thing a professional and social Darwinism. That is why when I make a mistake, I tend to find out what I didn’t see, why I fell into it and how I can avoid it in the future. So, call me hypercritical if you wish: I call it being mindful.

I am fortunate. I am thankful, and I take responsibility for being where I am at any given point in time. I sat down to write something very different an this is what is coming out.

I (ADN) a new remote friend, @bojan, was inspired to write an article when we got on the subject of burnout. I was very curious as to his perspective. About a decade ago, I heard from a psychologist that many of her patients in Santa Clara that suffered from burnout where from one field: IT. I was surprised, truly surprised that this field of “smarter than the average bear” professionals would have such a high rate. But then I reflected on my own experience well over a decade ago with burning the candle at both ends and having my inner Scotty giving me more power to work 10,12 even 16 hour days at a great little start up, that still exists to this day.

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The guiding principle of technology is, technology is supposed to make our lives better by alleviating the drudgery from our lives and letting us have more time doing what we enjoy. But there is a dark side to technology, and I am not talking about surveillance this time. This dark side is perpetrated by people who create it and use it. I’m going to talk about two things: design/process failure and computer etiquette “netiquette” because they have the same basic root cause.

There are many failures in use of  technology by companies that should know better that I wonder how the people in charge manage to keep their jobs. Now it is easy for me to sit here atop my perch and take pot shots, insulated from all the conflicting pressures of making products that both please the management’s bottom line and customers. However, I have always been of the opinion that there is a way to do both. There are solutions that can actually deliver more satisfaction to both company and customer.

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Perspective is the ability to step back from one’s self. And evaluate what you have from an outsider’s point of view and really see where you are. Quite literally one of the dictionary definitions of the word perspective is: “true understanding of the relative importance of things.” It’s the fact that realizing that everything is relative, that helps one see where one is truly at.

If I ask someone where they are and they are standing next to me, they might say, “I am here.” But that informs no one without context — but context is what a lot of people forget to include when they’re looking at their situation. It’s really easy to interpret a person’s physical presence from the word “here” because we naturally synthesize the information at our disposal: what we see, hear, feel, etc. in short: their entire environment.

But what a lot of people fail to do is to take synthesize all the things that affect them and take everything into account when the look at what they consider a bad situation. What’s even worse is when some people think they have all the information, and make decisions without thinking of what they might be missing, or things that they are taking for granted and not including in their decision making.

I find it useful to step outside myself, which means setting my personal feelings aside for a minute and looking at myself from what someone else might see. Just that act of looking at your actions or situation from what it must look like to someone that doesn’t understand everything you know helps tremendously. It clarifies and crystalizes things you might not even realize about your situation and even yourself.

So, the next time you find yourself in a crappy situation with someone, take a step back and look at it from a different perspective, and see if your situation is as bad as it seems. Often people I see complaining about what is essentially a problem  that person created himself/herself, either out of thin air or by doing things to rub people the wrong way.

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