Saying No

The point of this is not directed towards anything or anyone specific other than myself. While I do use the example of IT, it is purely a generic metaphor. Probably I have spent too much time in IT and not enough diversifying my experience.

With infinite time, manpower, or money, then we could pull off whatever we wish. In reality, we rarely are blessed enough to have even large amount of one. Therefore, decisions have to be made about what is or is not feasible to accomplish.

Information Technology is a field which often is a victim of its own success. Pulling off a feat means they should be able to pull off the next completely different feat. All too often, every difficult feat is “required” so IT can continue to appear relevant. Choosing not to do it is not an option because the players in IT will just be replaced with someone more willing to say yes. Whether new management or an outsourcing vendor, someone is too willing underestimate the difficulty and agree to do the feat.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
Litany against fear from Dune by Frank Herbert

I find myself in a similar situation of being asked to assume responsibilities I doubt myself capable of undertaking, but in fearing becoming irrelevant, I agree to do them anyway. From serving in the Baha’i community to getting asked to photograph a wedding, I do not say no very well.

Is this really a good thing?

The Outsourced Brain


I have relinquished control over my decisions to the universal mind. I have fused with the knowledge of the cybersphere, and entered the bliss of a higher metaphysic. The Outsourced Brain – New York Times

Facetiousness aside, it does point out how others are consumed by these tools rather than consume them.

Tom-Tom is pretty cool, but I find the adventure of figuring out where I am going by using a map more fun but not nearly as fun as mentally envisioning where I am located based on memory and probability from what I little know of the area. I’ve ridden in a car where the people had a Tom-Tom or other GPS system. I’d tell them to ignore it and go another way, but they wanted to go where the GPS said to go… So we did and got there by a route I would not have chosen.

Some people suggest one should keep a journal and dump out all the concerns for a good night’s sleep. A low tech external brain if you will… I find writing all that down keeps me up well into the night. 🙁 Outsourcing all thinking? No thanks… I need to keep my brain active to stave off dementia. (Note to self: Pick up Sudoku or Brain Age pronto.)

tag: , , ,

links for 2007-07-07


I am glad industries outside the computer-related realm are picking up what open source has known for a long time: Value can come from those who have not had to go through a job interview process to attach to a project. The power of the Internet is to facilitate communication.

Wired 14.06: The Rise of Crowdsourcing

Hobbyists, part-timers, and dabblers suddenly have a market for their efforts, as smart companies in industries as disparate as pharmaceuticals and television discover ways to tap the latent talent of the crowd. The labor isn’t always free, but it costs a lot less than paying traditional employees. It’s not outsourcing; it’s crowdsourcing.

Reality TV perhaps is the one example which made a half-hearted effort. Instead of professional actors, get people off the street. However, the writers have contrived to pick casts that interact through conflict. When the actors succeed it is in despite of the producers.

The specific example of this is stock photography. I didn’t read past the first page of four. Hopefully they get into Creative Commons and free stock photography?

Machines Better Programmers than Humans

… Computers now create programs that solve complex problems better than programs designed by people….

Grasemann and Miikkulainen applied genetic algorithms to solve the fingerprint compression puzzle in work supported by the National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorate. They provided their computer with the basic programming instructions needed to compress graphic images and then waited for a better algorithm to be born. The progress of the evolving program was tested at each generation. After 50 generations, the genetic algorithm consistently outperformed the human-derived WSQ.

Machines Better Programmers than Humans

Goody! First my job could be going to offshore outsourcing. Now my job could be going to a computer.