Don't get involved in partial problems, but always take flight to where there is a free view over the whole single great problem, even if this view is still not a clear one.
He’s observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.
Regarding the “de-anonymizing” the web, two years ago in Paris, I met a mathematician working on pattern detection models. He focused on locating individuals simply through their cell phones habits. Even if the person buys a cell phone with a fake ID and uses it with great care, based on past behavior, his/her real ID will be recovered in a matter of weeks. (As for Facebook, it recently launched a snitching program aimed at getting rid of pseudonyms — cool.)
Click through to mondaynote.com and read the entire post. Very interesting thought piece and probably not far off the mark.
This pattern is common to all great programmers I know: they're not experts in something as much as experts in becoming experts in something.
The best programming advice I ever got was to spend my entire career becoming educable. And I suggest you do the same.
learning how to learn is more important than learning anything else. If you know how to learn, you'll reduce inertia and emotional investment in any particular niche, so you're likely to make better decisions when choosing what to best work on. Another consequence is that it's best to be continuously introspective with regard to what you're doing versus what you should be doing. Often that gives you unexpected insights. If you're a good calligrapher and grok the emergence of the printing press, the smart move is to be the first font designer.
Ten minutes later, new question. Same process:
- Gather everybody around.
- Answer the question, and explain the philosophy.
- Make sure everyone understands the thought process.
- Ask one person to write it in the manual.
- Let them know they can decide this without me next time.
After two months of this, there were no more questions.
Sounds simple, but sometimes getting people to think for themselves requires you to repeatedly explain the thought process...
“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works. The design of the Mac wasn’t what it looked like, although that was part of it. Primarily, it was how it worked. To design something really well, you have to get it. You have to really grok what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that."
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people."
“Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have. "
Open the Terminal application on a Mac and what do you see? A noble and worthy Unix “shell”, a program that geeks use to interact with the OS. Terminal uses the bash shell (for Bourne Again Shell. Created by Brian Fox, bash is based on the sh shell, which was invented by Stephen Bourne. Unix mavens love their word-play acronyms).
And now we have the Apple iOS, an OS X derivative that uses bits from the same kernel.
I think technical people, and engineers in particular, will always have good job prospects. But what if you don't have the aptitude or personality to follow a technical path? How do you prepare for the future?
I'd like to see a college major focusing on the various skills of human persuasion. That's the sort of skillset that the marketplace will always value and the Internet is unlikely to replace.