Comprehending Engineers

Michael Levin is a “Friend of Buzz” I met a few years back when I was visiting Buzz when he was still based in Florida. Michael is a Java developer and all round good guy. I thought this was worth passing along to my engineering friends and those who live with them. I found it helpful

Comprehending Engineers

Comprehending Engineers – Part 1:To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Comprehending Engineers – Part 2:What is the difference between Mechanical Engineers and Civil Engineers?Mechanical Engineers build weapons, Civil Engineers build targets.

Comprehending Engineers – Part 3:Three engineering students were gathered together discussing the possible designers of the human body. One said, “It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints.” Another said, “No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections.” The last said, “Actually it was a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?”

Comprehending Engineers – Part 4:”Normal people … believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain ‘t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet.”

Comprehending Engineers – Part 5:An architect, an artist and an engineer were discussing whether it was better to have a wife or a mistress. The architect said he preferred a wife, as they could build a solid foundation for an enduring relationship.
The artist said he preferred a mistress, because of the passion and mystery he found there.
The engineer said, “I like both.”
Engineer: “Yeah. If you have a wife and a mistress, they will each assume you are spending time with the other woman, and you can go to the lab and get some work done [Michael Levin’s Weblog]

Review of Naked Conversations

Naked Conversations : How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers

Author: Robert Scoble, Shel Israel

Year: 2006

Publisher: Wiley

ISBN: 047174719X

A bit slow, but I’ve finally found time to finish Naked Conversations.

This is currently the best choice available to introduce blogging to an executive level audience that is either trying to figure out “what’s in it for us” or is curious about what you’ve been mumbling about under your breath recently. It won’t tell you much that’s new if you’re already actively blogging, but you’re not the target audience. The format, tone, structure, and emphasis on stories are all what you need to help key decision makers in your organization “get it.”

In Chapter 3 on blogs and word of mouth marketing, Scoble and Shel provide the following quote from Seth Godin about the connection between blogs and curiosity:

“Not only are bloggers suckers for the remarkable, so are the people who read blogs,” said Godin. “This is the most curious segment of the population, the people who are seeking out the new and the useful. This is the audience that doesn’t need to be interrupted because they are already listening. They are alert, on the lookout for the next big thing. No need to yell. If you’ve invested the time and the energy and the guts to make something remarkable, this audience can’t wait to hear about it.”

Scoble and Israel focus on the marketing/external relations aspects of blogging and consciously ignore the potential value of blogging within the organization. But curiosity functions everywhere. Their advice is generally sound and on point. Much of that advice does translate from external to internal applications.

If you’re trying to bring this technology into your organization, go buy a stack of copies and get them into the hands of your executive team.

Tags: NakedConversations blogging

An update on my shoulder and recovery progress

I am continuing to recover from my shoulder injury last month. Although the progress feels slow, both my physical therapist and orthopedic surgeon tell me that things are right on schedule and doing well. When I first posted about the accident I had just met with the surgeon and we had not yet completed all the diagnostic tests. Once the CAT scans were in, together with more detailed x-rays, it was clear that I had done significantly more damage than I initially thought. What I had was, in technical terms, “a closed, comminuted fracture of the right proximal humerus.” In more colloquial terms, what I had was a “head split,” where I had turned the ball of my shoulder into something resembling a jigsaw puzzle. Quite remarkable what you can do to yourself falling off a bike at 0 MPH.

Continue reading An update on my shoulder and recovery progress

Developing an eye and ear for Web 2.0 phenomena

Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead
Benjamin Franklin

I’ve been following the controversy and conversation around Digg, HD-DVD keys, and the AACS-LA response. I’ve found the following to be among the more thoughtful and useful posts on the topic for my interests:

My views on copy protection and DRM (digital restrictions management/digital rights management) have generally been more pragmatic than ideological or policy oriented. I think the evidence suggests that copy protection and DRM schemes generally don’t accomplish what they ostensibly claim to. They don’t stop anyone who wishes to circumvent them, and they increase costs and interfere with the rights of those who do play by the rules.

In this most recent incident, we’re discovering that the latest generation of technology tools and services with explicitly social components are even farther ahead of law and policy than usual. “Cease and desist” letters begin to lose their effectiveness when the number of “offenders” starts to expand exponentially. “Deep pockets” lose their effectiveness when the conflict becomes asymmetrical.

The decision makers here are not stupid people, despite what their responses might suggest. On the other hand, they do appear to be “net deaf” or “net blind.” Their judgment is formed and informed by long experience in linear environments. Whether they can compensate for that experience in a changing world is problematic. Ed Yourdon in another post that just hit my feed reader offers some thoughts on why it may remain difficult.

The problems of hierarchy are largely invisible from the top. The power of new networks is hard to appreciate if you don’t immerse yourself in it. It’s a bit like trying to coach a sport that you’ve never played. There’s only so much you can learn by watching from the sidelines. If you want to make sound decisions, you need to invest in acquiring the requisite experience.