2006 November | Muses et essais

Archive for November, 2006

The Internet is so damn complex

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Today, a colleague and I were discussing the use we have of Internet. While I am personnaly mainly both an information gatherer and a solutions provider, my colleague had mainly a social use of the Internet.

Both of us use email and search services (namely Google) extensively, but that’s approximatively all we have in common. He is used to publishing photos and videos on flickr and youTube respectively, post blog entries on Blogger and manage a MySpace page.

And that’s where the difference is: not being a great social animal, I feel overloaded by the complexity of having to manage the bits and pieces of my self on the Internet through a lot of different services.

I find it so difficult to believe that it’s how people want their information to exist: scatered all over the place on the Internet, with weak or inexistant possibilities to syndicate all content and apply changes on a general scale (like changing your name on all your profiles when you get married).

Moreover, if your service provider goes bust, or if for any reason you lose access to your account, you have to recreate all your content again, or it is lost forever. Furthermore, you would want to have every page linking to you (or your info) to be updated to reflect the changes… and what we certainly don’t want is to have a single mammoth to manage everything we would want to do, do we?

We might be onto something here…

…semantic web? Probably doesn’t solve anything for 99% of the content on the Internet
…Web 3.0? Whatever that might be.
…peer-to-peer networks? It is not a new idea, for sure, but it is an idea that still have a lot of potential for development. (Freenet maybe?)

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Multitasking vs. multigoaling

Monday, November 20th, 2006

I read this piece some time ago about how bad multitaskers could be at delivering quality job, and then, more recently pointed on the same blog, another post on the dangers of actually believing you can multitask.

I was starting to feel badly bitten by those two posts as I considered myself as a good multitasker… then I realised that what I was doing was not multitasking!

As the posts point it, multitasking is the alleged ability to perform two activities at the same time: writing an email while answering the telephone, talking to someone while watching TV… or, apparently in spite of what many British people might believe, using your mobile phone (even hands-freed by a kit) while driving!

Fact is, I am bad at that, but I am also quite relieved that I am probably as bad as anyone else!

What I think I am good at is to have mutiple goals in the same period of time:

  • perform general day activity
  • implement new features on the web site
  • manage the implementation team
  • manage client expectations for today’s work
  • write letter to bank account manager
  • write blog post
  • before the end of the day!

but also

  • prepare for application support phase
  • organise application audit
  • find something to do for New Year’s Eve*
  • file company’s accounts
  • all due for varying deadlines

Concentration can falter when performing only one activity for a prolonged period of time (see on the same subject: Could videogames be good for your children?). Having multiple goals to achieve allows me to have two different brain activities: a concious one, that requires full attention, dedicated to the current task, and a background one, probably not subconcious, that helps me solve or prepare for the next activity.

Often, when I am stalled or bored, I let aside my current activity and engage in a new one. I intentionnally switch contexts to allow my mind to rest on the current subject, but my general productivity to stay at a high level.

How many times were you trying top find an answer to a silly question (”What is the name of this actor that played the allleged cop in this movie I can’t remember the title of, in which the story is told backwards to mimic the memory losses of the main character?**”), let it rest for a while and had a flashback when doing something completely different?

I am going to find out more about that…

* any ideas welcome…. with the following specs: for a couple, in the region of London, a couple hundred quid, and the possibility for the lady to wear a nice dress without looking odd or displaced

** Joe Pantoliano in Memento

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Could videogames be good for your children?

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

I just happened to remember an article where they would write that a study had proven that children in the USA had an average attention-span period of 15 minutes, and that it had been linked to the time between adverts on TV networks…

Interesting fact, indeed, but what would be the outcome of a study focusing on video games playing children?

I believe that a general session of playing a video game probably hooks you from half an hour to a few hours. That should definitively get anyone to improve their concentration, wouldn’t it?

So, would you want your children to be TV or video games addicts? :)

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What’s Oriented Object?

Friday, November 17th, 2006

Today, someone I knew wasn’t technical at all asked me this question… obviously, they were talking about Object Oriented Development / Programming / Design, and that’s how I replied:

Object Oriented reasoning is to be opposed to procedural or machine related reasonings.

Instead of having to know exactly how machines work intrinsically (assembly code) or having to manage loads of loosely related code (procedural approach), the Object Oriented approach allows developers (or designers) to think in terms of real-world entities (objects) to build applications and thus architecture all body of work around common representations of those entities.

In other words, in the past 20 years we have significantly raised the level of abstraction of computer systems from processor-specific code to generic abstracted code. Objects contain their own data (a PERSON has a NAME), have their own behaviour (a PERSON can WALK), protect their inner workings (let’s say they’re shy) inherit qualities from parent objects (yes, objects have parents too) and can interact with other objects (a PERSON can DRIVE a CAR while TALKing on the PHONE)…

The benefits of this approach are multiple: you enable the reuse of components, you improve the general quality of the code, you can focus on businessy more than technical issues and you can even port your application from a system to another (think Java!)… those among many other advantages.

…even Cobol has gone Object Oriented!!!

What would be your explanation?

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