I'm decompressing from interviews this afternoon. (Phone marathon went well. I am tired. I will try to do some work tonight; I don't think I can function that much right now, my concentration reservoirs are completely shot.) What happens when I decompress? I write a lot! Hurrah! And I read. So here is writing about reading.
One thing I mentioned to people this afternoon was MetaOlin, the first student-run course at Olin and a mind-blowing experience for me and the other 5 students involved. Thankfully, we blogged! Some of my favorite bits from that right now:
Letting things rest unquestioned has never been a talent of mine. I have to consciously put things down, step back, and say "I'm going to be okay not understanding evvvvvvvvvverything about this right now." Otherwise I'd just keep following random intellectual threads and tangents, and I would be happy but not content because I wouldn't actually focus enough to get something concrete done. --March 2007
And then there's just this ridiculously EXCITED ABOUT EVERYTHING!!! post from communications engineering. And then dragons.
However, when you fall of the edges of your world, you usually fall into a new (and larger) one. Take that metaphor and spin it around into systems thinking today. Instead of here be dragons, we have the much subtler factors beyond our control or even unexplained side effects. Can't do anything about dragons; they're just there, and if something flies into their realm, best let it go. We've roamed outside the known boundaries of our field... The case study of the Hubble telescope, while impressive and clearly written, has one major flaw. It has no stories.
As Boris said, "I agree with everything [the Hubble case study] said, but it doesn't help me." It's like saying here be dragons, followed by instructions to be cautious around dragons and avoid getting your ship sunk by dragons. What we need are more specific stories: "...and there was the one time we found this beast of a dragon, purple wings and scaly tales, who flew in from the sky to attack our boat... except Jorge discovered they were vulnerable along the underside of their wings..." If a purple dragon is ramming at your ship, you want to know how people have gotten rid of them in the past, not that you "should avoid purple dragons." --February 2007
And then this - I now belive that learning how to learn is a very learnable mindset, and experience can help, if used as tools rather than ruts to get stuck in.
Question: Is the advantage in the new world system (whatever the heck that means) and the creation of new systems (products, etc.) skewed towards the young? Since young people tend to be much more used to "being bozos" on account of not knowing enough to be much of anything else, we're apt to adapt better to a world where everyone's thrown into bozo-hood, much like being blind during a nighttime power outage. I have a hard time believing this; experience and the wisdom of years is usually transferrable to different situations. --January 2007
Some old blog posts I've randomly reflected on lately:
- Wherein Mel realizes that she really does love education. Although it takes over 3 years before I admit that I love education most of all.
- An example of the amount of pushing-myself I was used to having to do - imagine doing this all your life, and you'll see why I'm incredibly grateful for firehoses and go "MORE! More! Give me more!"
- This is still one of my favorite books.
- Wherein Mel begins to stand up to her parents and chart her own life. This was almost exactly 3 years ago. It hasn't gotten any easier, but I've gotten more used to it - if the world you want doesn't exist, then dammit, make it. It took a while to allow myself to not swallow things, not accept them, not let something that bothered me go; I was used to being a quiet punching bag because it was a survival mechanism. And when I started allowing that energy to unleash, it was terrifying; I didn't want to lash out at anything, but sometimes I did. And I'm still learning how to harness it.
- Wow, I'd almost forgotten about this - I did use Fedora in its very early days. Well, I tried. Brought a CD home and dual-booted the family computer. Parents were not thrilled, and that ended that little exploration... And these are the kinds of things that make me wonder who we're missing now, because I had so many near misses as a teenager, tried multiple times to become an open source contributor and just couldn't find a way to do it - and I want to understand this, because something about those near misses just bothers me. Who are we missing? Who should be contributing, but isn't yet, for thousands of tiny reasons - in my case here, my parents going "WHAT THE HECK IS THIS? BAD! UNDO!" I've tried to express this before, and I'm not yet satisfied with how I'm able to convey it, that feeling of being left out, that feeling of standing outside because you don't know how to knock on that door.
- Wherein Mel copes with ADHD. Somewhat related: wrestling with the issue of credentialism and wondering where the heck I'll ever fit into this world.
- Wherein Mel writes systems engineering poetry.
- On making beautiful things.
- Wherein Mel begins to listen for her own inner compass.
- The marks of a future sociologist begin to appear.
- This doesn't really relate to any other posts listed above, but I once tried to chase down the history of numerical grades and ended up with something that I now recognize as the Sabir-Whorf Hypothesis.