In The Science of Screwing Up, Wired Magazine discusses Kevin Dunbar: “a researcher who studies how scientists study things — how they fail and succeed”.
When Dunbar reviewed the transcripts of [a meeting involving people from numerous disciplines], he found that the intellectual mix generated a distinct type of interaction in which the scientists were forced to rely on metaphors and analogies to express themselves. (That’s because, unlike [his comparison group of specialists,] the E. coli group, the second lab lacked a specialized language that everyone could understand.) These abstractions proved essential for problem-solving, as they encouraged the scientists to reconsider their assumptions. Having to explain the problem to someone else forced them to think, if only for a moment, like an intellectual on the margins, filled with self-skepticism.
Interestingly, the Domain Driven Design book makes a similar plea:
When domain experts use this LANGUAGE in discussions with developers or among themselves, they quickly discover areas where the model is inadequate for their needs or seems wrong to them. The domain experts (with the help of the developers) will also find areas where the precision of the model-based language exposes contradictions or vagueness in their thinking.
However, I find the essence of the two discussions to be slightly different:
The Domain Driven Design book encourages developers and architects to move towards one language, that can be shared between the stakeholders.
Dunbar found that the process of “working around” the differences in the languages and concepts produced the real results, of finding a common understanding.
I think the correct solution lies somewhere between these two extremes.
So, I’m currently on the coach on the way London to Oxford. The bus has wifi access, so I decided to catch up on my blogging a bit.
We’ve been staying at my father’s house in Wolvercote. Technically it’s not “Oxford” itself, but for all intents and purposes it really is.
I’ve been working from home for Qualica. Siobhan’s looking for work, though the stress of the move caught up with her and wiped her out with a nice cough and flu. Thankfully, she’s been feeling better recently, and is again knocking on doors.
Otherwise, we are doing really well. We’re really happy here, and are definitely both happy we made the move. Things will, I am sure, get tough at some stage. But in the meantime we’re just enjoying it!
(I only posted this now, even though I actually wrote it on the bus yesterday.)
The wonderful wizard of… Oxford.
Yep, Siobhan and I are moving to the UK. We’ll be starting off in Oxford, where my family lives. Once Qualica has worked out plans for office location, we’ll be settling down from there.
We should have applications in next week, and hope to have approval in about 2 weeks. Then we’re off!
In the meantime, I’m on leave so that I can help pack. Which largely consists of dealing with a LARGE number of books.
Happy new year!
2007 ended very appropriately for us: As we were leaving, our shopping-bag broke. The champagne bottle in it fell to the floor and exploded, spraying us with broken glass and bubbly.
It’s a good analogy for how we felt most of 2007: harassed, stressed, late, and in the middle of a disaster zone.
So, we’re looking forward to 2008. I hope you are all too!
We wish you all a happy new year, filled with all of the things you could want.
Hervé This started his career in molecular gastronomy when he tried to shortcut a recipe – adding all the egg yolks to a dish at once, instead of the prescribed 2-at-a-time.
When the shortcut didn’t work, he started investigating how these apparently-arbitrary rules work.
That was 27 years and 25,000 rules ago.
Apparently his discoveries work well enough that someone’s given him access to a million-dollar nuclear-magnetic-resonance device. He uses it to figure out why peas change colour when they are cooked.
Courtesy of Why-Read’s article.
Apparently, I’ll look like a combination of my grandparents and George Bush senior when I’m older.
St Andrew’s University’s “The Perception Laboratory’s Face Transformer” will
- Project your face forward in time.
- Project your face back in time.
- Change your race.
- Display your face as modified by various artist’s styles.
Take a recent mugshot and upload it at http://morph.cs.st-andrews.ac.uk/