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1 parent 1ff5802 commit 1de8b3954074c334943405bb718d356ee78a65b0 @timruffles committed Jul 3, 2011
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-title: Week one
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title: Geek Status
date: 2010/09/13
+draft: true
body: |
You can't ship products because you're too busy worrying about status. Programming is about making things, but we get so caught up in the how of making, we make it so much harder to get things done.
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+title: Maxims
+draft: true
+body: |
+ Maxims are memorable. I read far too much to remember all I've read, and it's irratating. Beyond seeding my subconcious with lots of good ideas, I feel like there's a lot of stuff I'd like to conciously remember and apply.
+
+ The Victorians were as worried about doing the right thing morally as we about optimising our productivity, business or development. Moral maxims were a salient literary phenomenon, with Rev Blah etc, and phrases plucked from poetry and prose to illustrate particular moral guidence.
+
+ Maxims are fantastic as you can pull them into your head and apply them to a situation. They compress lessons you've learned or arguments you've accepted and can be easily applied and shared.
+
+ They're not a replacement for reading the source they're based on, however. Which of us didn't know the maxim 'A stitch in time saves nine' while studiously failing to apply it numerous times, before the lesson is drilled into our head. The maxim now serves as a short hand, reminding me of the painful occasions when I failed to abide by the rule. The maxim alone, however, has no real impact. You have to read the argument, or learn the lesson, that they are merely shorthand for.
+
+ I think a library of maxims would really help my learning, so I've started to put one together. It's most interesting feature, I feel, is its multi-fariousness. All other sources adopt two alternative strategies for differing points of view - a netural point of you, with lots of weak passive setences say 'Point X is contentious, A thinks Y, B thinks Z', or simply present one, at best while denigrating the alternatives.
+
+ I've simply added another axis for each of the maxims - school of thought. That way the same subjects can have multiple maxims filed under 'Preparation', and depending on the school of thought you are a member of, you can grab all the maxims you need and stuff them into your mental toolbelt.
+
+ eg:
+ Preparation:
+ Good:
+ A stich in time saves nine
+ Bad:
+ X Y Z
+
+
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+title: Game Based Marketing, G Zichermann & J Linder
+body: |
+ Loyalty = Stickiness
+
+ When he discusses existing reward schemes in the book (McDonalds Monopoly, 'Chase picks up the tab'), his suggestions are repetitive: put it online, to reduce costs and increase scope.
+
+ * 'Whether your brand is on the leading or trailing edge of this unmistakable gamification trend is up to you, but the outcome is inevitable: everything is about to be made more fun' p 200
+ * FFP - frequent flier programs
+ * Decoupled from original reward - free flights etc
+ * Often not claimed - 22 years worth unclaimed @ present
+ * More for status
+ * Successful enough to motivate 'Mileage runs'
+ * ppl pick inconvenient flights - either so bad they're worth extra points, or just longer - to win more points
+ * Flyertalk.com - community of ppl fanatical about FFP
+ * Funware
+ * Components required for funware
+ * Points - see how you're doing/what it's worth, how you're doing vs others
+ * Rules - so it's fair
+ * Demonstrability - show others how well you've done
+ * Jigsaw.com
+ * Points for uploading ppls' contact details
+ * LinkedIn via third parties
+ * Couldn't have afforded to pay ppl to do this
+ * So did it via points
+ * Via leaderboards and status incentivised ppl to submit masses of details
+ * Walmart
+ * Leaderboard masterclass
+ * Make users feel good - maintain hope
+ * First leaderboard shown compares vs nearest competitors
+ * Then vs friends, to create social context and pressure
+ * Then traditional top 10
+ * Keep hope alive! You can win!
+ * [Mafia wars does this too - shows you ppl with ranks close to you in attack screen, not level 9999 uber player]
+ * FFP beat green stamps because it was more fun!
+ * Moving from direct link between action and remuneration increases flexibility
+ * Inflate/deflate economy
+ * Change gearing to change incentives
+ * America's Army - computer game created to increase recruits among young
+ * badges ranks etc
+ * Random awards
+ * Racks up addiction
+ * Sweepstake
+ * legal as no investment of time/money
+ * User flagging to reduce gaming
+ * Team games in FFP v effective
+ * Bartle's four types of player
+ * Achiever - beat challenges - social context improves achievement
+ * Socialisers - enjoy social element > game
+ * Explorers - intrinsic reward from the playing of the game, not the end point
+ * Killers - enjoy games as far as they can explicitly beat other ppl
+ * 'Pink Cadillac' for top performers in sales org
+ * Motivates thru demo status to employers for customers
+ * 'Behind this slavish devotion to the perks of FFPs lies a disarmingly simple conclusion: game mechanics such as points, badges, rewards, levels, challenges, and leaderboards can be combined to create powerful loyalty tools that can work for any brand ... toolset for savvy marketers looking to break through the noise to create enduring loyalty' p 199
+ * By being plays in a game of status, all purchases and brands are effectively involved in a social game
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+title: Boycott the unhappy
+body: |
+
+ Buy things from happy people only, turn away from those with dead eyes. Seek out those who greet you with sunny smiles, who brim with joy in their work. If we all shied from slaves to expediency, soon there would be no market for their slave owners.
+
+ Not only compassion compels us, but self-interest! If there is no market for their misery there is none for ours. So: seek the work that makes you happy and seek to give work to those happy in it; if all were happy in their work, what a world of difference that would make.
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+title: Why "being determined" isn't the answer in anything - it's just begging the question
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+title: Politics - nerdy
+draft: true
+body: |
+
+ To me, the remarkable thing about watching two elite martial artists fight is how distinctly unreamarkable it is. They share knowledge of innumerable fantastically exciting ways of dispatching an opponent to the mat, but the spectator never gets to see it. Both know and respect the other's skill, and hold back from trying anything that might win the fight and amaze the crowd for fear that they will be the one flat on their back.
+
+ Which brings to mind another dull and conservative combat: politics, the primary combatants the government and opposition, sharing a common foe in the press. All are masters of their art. But all know the others' skill. Neither the government nor opposition risks the big policy move that could properly put a problem on its back, for it would mean a step off the political centre of gravity. Vested interests mean that any real change to the status quo is a step into danger. The press is so powerful and so polarised, that a step in either direction will see half the country whipped to a frenzy over the breakfast table by biting editorials or screaming headlines.
+
+ With both combatants so concerned with not putting a step wrong, is it any surprise that the right step is seldom made?
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-title: Gamfication
-date: 2011/09/01
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-body: |
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+title: The Luzhin Defence, Nabokov
+body: |
+
+ Nabakov's book is split into three - a lonely child's view of the world, an entrancing account of life as a chess genius, and his post-breakdown decline. It is equally about each part, and each has plenty of observations that ring true.
+
+ His portrait of Luzhin's childhood is a sad one, but realistic. The low points of anyone's childhood would be recognisable here - shyness, exclusion - but few of the high-points. It is only when he discovers chess that the narrative lights up with the harmony and depth he perceives in the structure of the game. The family is a melenconly one - his father's affairs drive his mother to death, and his dreams for Luzhin as a child prodigy, and himself as a writer always mindful of his future biographer, are painfully vainglorious.
+
+ When the novel rediscovers Luzhin after years of itinerant chess success, resting in a hotel from his childhood and about to meet his wife, we watch an utterly unworldly character. His mind is so shaped by chess that the real world intrudes only occasionally, only noticing his immanence when he is burnt by a match or struggles to climb a staircase. A novel character, a portrait of a mono-mania more pronounced than any I've seen before. He barely notices his transition between cities, and lives only for the logic of the game.
+
+ The description of the games are vital, and recognisable to anyone who's felt a thrill at stretching their mind around any logical puzzle. Here Luzhin finds all the emotion, expression, colour and pleasure he lacks in his real life, for him unremittingly grey and incomprehensible. He feels the logic of the game physically, sensing the lines of power and control. His duel with the Italien player is spectacularly drawn, with a heavy emphasis on musical metaphors. The players feel the melodies of each other's tactics, perceiving future threats as subtle refrains in the other's orchestration.
+
+ The finale sees Luzhin sundered from his real life, and lost in the real world. His wife takes pity upon him during the second section, in the same way she felt painfully concerned by the fate of animals. She slowly forces the marriage against the fear her parents feel in her engagement in a man totally unable to function in the real world, and Luzhin's inability to express himself. When Luzhin finally breaks down in the middle of the tournament, as the world of his childhood forciby returns finding him searching a hallucination of a remembered forest track in central Berlin, she makes him swear off Chess. As its baleful influence slowly returns, Luzhin sinks into paranoia, perceiving his life as a long play against a occult opponent, and attempts to construct a defence. This ends in tragedy.
+
+ Nabokov has a fine eye for the path of lives, and the development of Luzhin is one of a few well, and occasionally ironical, portraits that make this an excellent book for spotting elements of yourself and others. The book is thoroughly melancholy, however. Unlike Dostyoky's *Crime and Punishment* you don't feel you've learnt a lesson by the end of it, just watched the unfortunate Luzhin stagger to a seemingly predestined and undeserved end. Emotional, but playing too long on the same note: vulnerability is the key note in each of the characters, with only Luzhin's father having the vim to express it in arrogance rather than introversion.
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+title: Penrose
+draft: true
+body: |
+ Programming languages don't exist. The idea of function application has absolutely nothing to do with 1s and 0s, but everything to do with mathematics. We translate the language of mathematics into a series of lower languages, together forming a system that behaves as the language dictates.
+
+ For instance, a 'function' or 'array' felt very basic to me. The idea of applying operations to operands felt like raw computer stuff when I began programming.
+
+ But when I read SICP and saw operator application being carried out via an interpreter, turning list(+ 1 1) into the behaviour we expect by shifting the + out, finding the operation (speficified in the lower level language) it represented and applying it to the evaluated values of 1 and 1 in that lower level language, to exhibit the behaviour the higher level languages dictated, but in a process in which that higher level language was translted away, it finally clicked.
+
+ This has fascinating implications. Searle's chinese room is a system as follows:
+
+ Text + Question about it in, both in Chinese -> Room containing Searle and a machine that manipulates Chinese characters, with instructions in input = correct answers to question in Chinese, although Searle doesn't understand Chinese.
+
+ Searle points out the answers are correct although he doesn't understand Chinese, and makes this an argument against a computer which also performs this function doing so.
+
+ However, the /system/ does! Searle is working on the wrong level, bifurcating what should be whole into 'me' and the 'machine'. He + machine = understands Chinese.
+
+ The parrallel to conciousness is made more clear when Searle is replaced by numerous other people, say the population of India. The parallel to the human brain of a Chinese person, whose individual neurons do not understand Chinese, but the system - the brain - does, is clearer.
+
+ What it comes down to is that languages can be translated down into lower level system that behave as if the (imaginary) language was carried out.
+
+ The language of the human brain works on a high level, and is translated down into chemicals and neurons. If we refigured these into an algorithm, we could feed that into any Turing complete machine, whether constructed of electrical circuits (or perhaps an interpreted language built on an interpreted language...), or ants nests, or water wheels, and the system would behave as if it were concious.
+
+ But what is the difference between a series of biological circuits behaving as if they were concious and our mechanical/electronic/hydraulic contraption?
+
+ To take another example, how can you tell people feel pain the same way you do? You can poke them, to see if they yelp like you. But you want to see if they have the same stuff going on in their mind as you, so you hook them up to an brain scanner and see that the patterns are inditical. They are! But is the same indefinable 'stuff' going on for them as it is for you? The alarming OWWW clanging into your conciousness?
+
+ In fact, there is no empirical test you could carry out with a positive result on a human, that could not also be carried out on a machine. For instance, if you wired up an electronic circuit of the same logical complexity as the human brain, and scanned it while being subjected to the same pain inputs, what if it /looked/ the same as your brain scan being so subjected?
+
+ We fall back to deductive logic. Humans feel pain in way X, computers are not human, therefore they cannot feel pain in way X. Two problems, firstly this is based (as is all deduction) on induction, namely: I am a human, I feel pain in way X. If we genearlise this experience, the deductive law is suggested: humans feel pain in way X. Secondly, we would have to determine tests to prove (or to even suggest there is a case to be made for) that since computers aren't human, they don't feel pain in the same way. That test would be based on the behaviour the system displayed! and, as discussed above, that test would be positive.
+
+ The language of conciousness can be translated... The really hard part is asking what this means. Does conciousness get generated by systems? Are all systems thus concious, but to a lesser degree? Are we really the process of a logical system? Is an ant's nest, whoes logic is executed by millions of effectively mindless ants, as able to perceive the colony language as we are ours?
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+title: Total Engagement, B Reeves & J. Read
+date: 2011/09/01
+
+body: |
+
+ This book’s premise is that work could be made better through game mechanics.
+
+ Each chapter opens with a story demonstrating the benefits and themes of the more academic (though we’re not talking particularly scientific or deep, more in stylistic terms) discussion. The first describes a current call centre scenario: stressful, confusing (with lots of metrics the workers don’t understand), isolated and with low rewards, the route to which is not obvious. The next contrasts a gamified one: happy workers playing from home (no commute as they’re in a virtual, WOW like environment), seeing their and their peers’ progress clearly (and sending helpful notes to pick up laggards), with obvious and immediate feedback on good behaviour (UUUUUUUPSELL!!!) leading predictably to clear rewards.
+
+ The book delivers good analysis of the benefits of games which will be most rewarding to non-gamers, and old news to everyone else. The analysis of mechanics is of no use to anyone implementing them, and are probably intended as a check list for product managers.
+
+ Most of all, the central premise that most work places could be meaningfully gamified is flawed. A huge number of jobs are not measurable. How does a manager receive instant feedback? Still less creative workers: what triggers the BONUS POINTS for an illustrator, or an advertising, marketing or creative IT worker? Any part of their job easily gamified would be the trivial part, and focussing on incentivising that part in a way that affected remuneration would be effectively incentivising poor performance.
+
+ Such jobs cannot satisfy the need for frequent, repeatable feedback that games require. The ‘meta-games’ that careers currently provide are about it - respect from your peers and financial bonuses that are often non-obviously created (and research shows that the rudimentary gamification bonuses provide are actually counter-productive precisely because of the non-measurable nature of such jobs). I believe the real value created by the majority of jobs today in economically developed countries would not be trivially measurable, and it would be counter productive to attempt to do so.
+
+ Jobs with transactional or mechanical natures (sales, manufacturing, customer support) would be improved by gamification; why an assortment of big names have plugged the book’s thesis as the future of all work is frankly beyond me. It’s clearly not.
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