Saturday, 21 May 2011

Cognitive Flexibility

One of the neat things about getting a doctorate at a school partly supported by the Military Industrial Complex is that sometimes you get visitors giving seminars about stuff (often having little to do with killing people) that give you an interesting perspective you might not have encountered elsewhere. Once upon a time a the US Navy was soon to commission a new aircraft carrier, and its Captain went around DARPA-supported universities to see if they were working on anything useful to him. (With us he found a mainframe-based hypertext information management system, about 15 years before the Web existed). He gave a talk that mentioned “levels of cognitive development” in which he summarized the first three as
  1. There is one right answer to every question, and Mommy knows it.
  2. There is one right answer to every question; if Mommy doesn't know it, someone else does.
  3. There is one right answer to every question, but maybe nobody knows it.
He then said an aircraft carrier is a small city with average age 19 and average cognitive level just above 2.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Posting Rate

I started this blog early in April as “private” to a few people, primarily to see how consistently I could post. I opened it up to the world two weeks ago – and, as Murphy's Law would predict, was unable to post since then. The trouble is that I have some good days, many not-so-good days, and some very bad stretches of days, but they're unpredictable, and there are many other things that have to get done on the good ones. This seems to be a common problem. I follow about two dozen web comics these days. A lot of them have a schedule they try to keep, but most have gaps when the author gets sick, loses net access briefly, hits a writer's block, or just disappears without explanation.

There are only two of my favourites that have posted consistently, seven days a week, for years on end: Schock Mercenary, and the ironically-named Irregular Webcomic. Both authors count as geeks in my books: Howard Tayler once worked for a computer company, in what capacity I don't know – but writing high-tech science fiction gives geek cred in and of itself. David Morgan-Mar is a physics geek who can explain physics and other stuff way better than Wikipedia (and some physics profs). Their consistency results from their employing a geekish concept: buffers.