Forget the right ways to do things

There are two kinds of smart people – those who want to understand you and those who don’t.

It bugged me most in university years and it probably helps that I had time to cool. It is now easier to make more precise and less blurred conclusions. How can people with similar backgrounds, age and highly knowledgeable in same field can be so polar in being either very understanding or wall that bounces back stream of confusion?

Hoarding experience

Learning is easy and enjoyable experience. As long as there is no academic system to control it screw with your head and take one or both aspects away.

You may learn a lot on absolutely any topic. And some time along the way you form critically important habit – how do you treat new information different from information you already have.

There path splits:

  • you can assume any information is equally valuable;
  • you can assume new is more interesting;
  • you can assume old and proven is the right way.

I adore the feeling of discovering new software. Especially if it does something I hadn’t seen or does things I seen in a way I hadn’t. The moment I get new information is an opportunity to know more and evolve.

Took me many years to understand that for some that is moment of confusion and anxiety.

boxes

Image by Syntopia

Poison of boxes

When people put priority on things they know – they turn freely flowing knowledge into sturdy boxes. Then new ideas can either fit box… or antagonize mind as unfitting.

We consider very wise to learn on mistakes of others, to adopt and make use of proven and working ways. That line of thoughts camouflages following fact – when you decide something is THE right way you destroy your ability to see ways that come at another angle.

Boxes are useful but you absolutely can’t make zoo cages taking wardrobe as model.

Informational suicide in tech niche

Ok, I won’t make too general judgments (ignoring unorthodox ways to make dynamite may actually be the right way) but let’s think how it applies to techies.

You can get away with boxes but I believe tech niche to be least likely place for that.

  • it is highly dynamic. Not as high as crappy news sites are screaming but still take a look at last decade and you will notice drastic changes.
  • information value is rarely proportional to popularity. It is equally easy for piece of awesome software to live in oblivion and for piece of crap to gain momentum and praise.
  • everything comes highly biased. Slashdot is one of sites I read not for stories but for comments. It amazes me how seemingly legitimate and accurate story can be torn apart by fact checks and inquiring minds of bored techies.

Making box out of this material is risk that it turns into coffin for your ability to evolve.

Overall

Be open for new things. Try a lot, test a lot… maybe except dynamite. And don’t be too fast to believe when someone tells you he knows THE right way. No such thing.

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3 Comments

  • “…when you decide something is THE right way you destroy your ability to see ways that come at another angle”

    Wow, you are becoming quite the philosopher. Technology is much like life itself.

    For me there is always 3 ways of approaching anything. There is the right way, the wrong way and then there is MY way. Dealing with things in this way helps me not to block out possible alternatives to whatever it is that I might be doing.

    I always jump at an opportunity to try new things, I am not scared to take chances but I am also always prepared to admit if I have made a mistake and then switch my way of doing things.

  • @Lyndi

    Philosopher is someone pissed off at life enough. :) And I am in quite bad mood lately.

    Admiting mistakes (at least to yourself if not others) is critically important for learning. It’s a pity absolutely most people are plain scared of this simple action.

    It is better better to say something that makes you look like an idiot than stay silent and be an idiot.

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