## Conditional Thinking

My mind made a leap past something blocking it for a while now.

This post, If This, Then That (ifttt): Teaching Conditional Thinking laid the groundwork I needed. The post describes a new simpler version of Yahoo Pipes called ifttt. The idea of both is to take data generated at one or many places and output that data in new interesting ways. An example for how I have used it is creating a single Bbworld feed taking the hashtags in Twitter, a couple dozen blogs, and Flickr tagged photos to produce a single RSS feed to follow. Sooo easier to give out this one than list all the feeds to coworkers or peers at other work places. It then describes this as a useful way to teach conditional thinking.

We have been discussing learning, specifically teaching the skills involved in problem solving: understand the problem, make a guess how to solve, try it, check the efficacy, decide whether solved or keep trying or give up. One idea thrown out was that there was a culture us-vs-them and that our culture made problem solving possible where as another culture did not. Another idea was that in order to problem solve one has to be able to find causes. A third was that someone taught us how to problem solve so someone needs to teach them.

This made me realize problem solving is similar to process flows in that have conditional logic.

• Case: make a guess how to solve.
• Exec: try it.
• Test: check the efficacy.
• Loop: decide whether solved or keep trying or give up.

The key piece really is someone who writes code reaches a point where letters, numbers, and symbols mean anticipated behavior. They know what it should do to solve the problem. Then when the code does not do it, they use problem-solving to fix it so it will.

So… To solve a problem, I may write code with conditional logic similar to problem-solving with problem solving to make it work. Even when I am writing this blog post, I am thinking about problems with it, how I can improve it, trying different ways to express it, and deciding whether it is okay. Think that seals it: Problem solving is a culture in which we are completely mired. Those trying to participate without thinking this way will have a hard time being relevant. Er… Useful. Er… Helpful.

## Teeshirt Roundup

Recently, Patrick asked how many geeky teeshirts do I have? I have 17 unique shirts. (Bought multiples of a few.)

Bruce asked how many have a picture on Facebook? He had posted many of the pictures of me and most of those involve a geeky teeshirt.

Thinkgeek Shirts
got root?
/Everyone stand back/ I know regular expressions
You Are Dumb in binary
Rays cast from this shirt travel at over 670,000,000 MPH
Do or do not. There is no try. (in shell)
98% Chimp
Reverse Engineer
Im blogging this.
I failed the Turing test
Come to the dark side, we have cookies -V
There's more than one way to do it.
There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who dont
Video games ruined my life. Good thing I have two extra lives.
Woot Shirts
Shutterbug
@-@ Imperial Walker
Misc Other Printer Shirt
sudo Make me a sandwich
Blackborg
New Kids Under the Block

P.S. There are way too many photos of me wearing the Turing test shirt. I’m gonna have to bench it for a while.

## TED Talk: Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation

I was attracted to this video because a while ago I read Daniel’s book: A Whole New Mind. Take the concept that simple, clearly defined jobs will move to overseas. So to succeed in the United States, children need to be learning conceptual skills and become the people inventing the work doled out to overseas workers. Let’s ignore that overseas workers are more than capable of conceptual work like our kids.

The pervasiveness of functional fixedness perhaps explains why I have a job. (That and I’m not a gestault pscychologist.) The web comic xkcd recently posted a flowchart on how to become a computer expert where the pick one at random is overcoming functional fixedness. Much of what I do is figuring out non-intuitive issues and document a way to make it work aka a workaround.

I like his list of what economists say are good motivators to replace monetary incentives. The opportunity to get incentives like these drew me to this project. Of course, we don’t have the levels of autonomy Pink describes. Baby steps! Can you see your employer allowing the employees to spend one day a year working on whatever the employees wish to deliver a new product? Some autonomy in a group I work with here resulted in Yaketystats.

• Autonomy
• Mastery
• Purpose

My favorite quote:

Traditional notions of management work great when you want compliance. If you want engagement, self-direction works better.

So this video is why this week I’ve been talking about how compliance sucks.  🙂

## I’m blogging this.

For about eight months I have participated in a group called the Brunch Bunch here in Athens. We get together to eat and talk. Many conversations drift into the nerdy (my forté?). The locations vary so I have gotten to try new (to me) restaurants. Elizabeth (pictured right) vouched that I am a great guy. Well, these are great people.
🙂

Elizabeth also brought a friend of hers from out of town, Claudia. Claudia, smartly has a newer version of my Canon Rebel. I have the XT. She has the XSi (two models newer). The newest is the T1i.

Downtown Athens is a great place to shoot photos. So, we walked around for an hour or so looking in stores to get out of the heat. This is the hat Elizabeth bought from Helix who also had some cool stone candle holders. Native American Gallery had some interesting petroglyph jewelry and gray flower pottery. I’ve got some ideas for gifts to give for upcoming birthdays, holidays, etc.

One of the employees at Helix and Claudia both asked if I had a blog. I’m sure it was because of my shirt! I only admitted to this one and blogging about Blackboard. Though, I guess I have diversified somewhat here. I probably should blog more about local stuff as well. That would mean getting out more as well.

For years, I have been collecting teeshirts from thinkgeek.com. At present the collection consists of:

Some others are on my wishlist. I do have some shirts from other places. By far the most popular is the xkcd sudo comic. I’ve added a few others from xkcd to my wishlist as well.