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Super-busy day today

Monday, December 08, 2008 by Dave Winer.

A picture named car.gifIntelligence and creativity are great, highly valued by our civilization, and so is vision; and when we think of vision, we usually think of far-reaching vision, but... The hardest stuff to see is often the stuff in front of your nose, in plain sight. Your eyes gloss over it, seeing only what you expect to see. So when you look at the world, you see a reflection of what's inside yourself. The world could change, but the change goes unperceived. Or flipped around, something about you changed, and you think (incorrectly) that the whole world changed.  Permalink to this paragraph

Programmers, as I've said many times, learn this over and over. We can't bury our mistakes, unlike other vocations. If you want to move on you have to figure out what's wrong. And almost always the mistake is one of your perception. Your eye glosses over the code and you see what you expect, even though what you actually typed is different. You can't move on until your vision improves. Permalink to this paragraph

I love puzzles that reveal this. I love Don's Amazing Puzzle, first shown to me by Don Brown, a programmer in Iowa. You try to count the F's in a sentence. It's just an ordinary sentence, swear to god there's no trick. But when I tried it, I got the wrong count. I repeated it over and over, still got the wrong answer. I swore it must be a semantic game, that the answer was zero or Tuesday or something stupid like that, so I wrote a script to count the F's and the script got it right! Oy. Permalink to this paragraph

Two people I knew at the time got the correct answer right away, one of them was a professional editor, and had developed a technique for doing this kind of review. Knowing that the human mind glosses over surprises, he reads sentences backwards. Ahh! When you break the routine your filters can't engage. Permalink to this paragraph

I've noticed another trick that doesn't make me more intelligent or creative, rather it increases my awareness, and the net effect is that I am more creative and smarter. When I'm out for a walk, waiting for a light to change, I watch my feet when I step off the curb. I always step off with my right foot. So I try instead to step off with my left foot. It requires some serious work to do this. But I find that I'm more aware as I walk if I do. Permalink to this paragraph

Another one, I could stare at a piece of code and swear the machine wasn't processing it correctly, but I know that's not the correct answer. Instead, I get up, refill my water glass, or walk around the block, or write a short post, and come back, then all of a sudden the bug pops out at me. Taking a break, taking your eyes out of context and bringing them back also improves your vision.  Permalink to this paragraph

Anyway, back to my busy day! ;-> Permalink to this paragraph

PS: If you like this story, you'll probably like the story about the kids in a circle and the heads and the feet. Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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