I have a tendency to reply to any proposal - particularly ones containing Grand Sweeping Statements - with a barrage of questions. Compared to what? How do you know? What happens if...? Could it possibly be any other way? I've got a new word to use in those questions now: The Hawthorne Effect.

Basically, if you claim that implementing $foo increased productivity (or whatever), how do you know that it was implementing $foo and not just implementing anything and watching? The Hawthorne Effect is a fancy way of saying "when you measure something, it usually gets better." Workers trying out a new process are more productive not because the process is helpful, but because researchers are watching.

The way to counteract this is to use placebos. (And do it double-blind, because expectation of perception is an absolutely stunning thing.) Then again, it's remarkable how sloppy experimental designs often are. One of the reasons I want to go to graduate school is to learn how to do research properly, because I know I'm not much better myself right now.

Excerpt from a poem by Suzanne Loughry.

If you are thirsty, and have
to drink,
that is not freedom.

But when I have a full cup,
and I share it with you,
we both
are free
while the sharing lasts.

A new comment on an old blog post led me back to the time in 2006 when I first publicly declared my intention to take a gap year. I'd privately planned for it since 2003, but never told anyone out of fear they'd laugh and shoot the fragile idea down. Well... I'm now in industry, working to bridge it with academia (so that worked out nicely - and I'm learning a ton!) and I think that, somewhere in there, I made the shift from "kid who's trying to frontload learning how to grow up" to "young adult who realizes it's a lifelong process."

I think what's happening is that I'm learning how to change in incremental steps and small, gradual course corrections - basically, in other ways than GIANT SWEEPING SLAMS of the rudder to the opposite side of the boat. Don't get me wrong; I can still shift dramatically when it's needed. The key is "when it's needed" - dramatic shifts are no longer my only option for transformation. Sometimes they work great; sometimes they're the best option. And sometimes they aren't, and now I'm learning to recognize that and adjust.

Wait. I think I've just said "I am learning to be patient." Well... shit. Pigs do fly, then.