I ‘done a speak’ at Ignite Brum recently.
I have a rational fear of public speaking to large audiences. I decided to face it. At ‘Staffs Web Meetup’ I gave a fairly techie 10(/20) minute talk about Ted Nelson’s concept of intertwingularity. When I saw a plea on birmingham.io for speakers at Ignite Brum to replace others who had dropped out, I imagined my usual cluster of geeks in the upstairs room of a pub, not the lights/action/movie comedy glamour of the stage at The Glee Club. I’m all for a bit of clubbing but I was well outside my comfort zone.
‘All I had to do’ was reduce my talk by 75%, simplify by about the same, for a general audience and produce exactly 20 slides that would auto-advance every 15 seconds. It was described by someone on the night as “Powerpoint as an extreme sport”. That was a true story. I recommend the challenge as an exercise for the reader. It is hard work in preparation and frantic in execution but it doesn’t give you much time to panic about the faces looking up at you; anyway, you’re blinded by the spotlights.
Watch as I drop behind the pace set by the projector. My best joke and some local politics was lost in the bunching on the corners but I present ‘Everything is Deeply Intertwingled (Smash the Hierarchy!)’
Thanks to @iamsteadman for allowing me to try this and making the video available (I’d never have agreed if I’d known that,) the other speakers and the people who made us all feel welcome: @probablydrunk, @carolinebeavon, @grunt121 and the audience.
I discovered something alarming yesterday: social media is losing to messaging.
There must be a drift back, from open collaboration to closed channels, from thinking in the open to “Can I have a word in my office, please?”. It isn’t healthy for anyone to be in control of The Message, or for conclusions to have been agreed before meetings begin.
Everything I have done in the last couple of years has led me towards networks, away from the control mechanisms of hierarchy. Please let us not give up now, just because being more open is harder work for dishonest people. If good team players are better, imagine what the awesome creative power of players in multiple teams with overlapping goals could achieve.
I still see many people writing about adopting Lean and/or Agile software development. I can remember how difficult it was for my team to work out what ‘Agile’ was and I think it has got harder since, as growing popularity has drawn charlatans into the area. I see two main types of useful articles.
- What (theory) : “It’s a philosophy” articles which usually point first towards the different values of agile and lean practitioners. But you can’t “do” a philosophy, so we get:
- What (practice) : Methodology – the study of methods that embody the philosophies. Many will say that Lean & Agile are not processes but I disagree; I think they are ‘software development process’ change processes.
I’d like to try something different: WHY?
The old ways of planning engineering projects, used for building a tower block, didn’t work for software. We don’t know enough, with sufficient certainty at the beginning of development to design top-down and are rarely sufficiently constrained by physics to be forced to build bottom-up.
Unusually for computing, the words ‘lean’ and ‘agile’ have useful meanings.
Lean is about ‘travelling light’, by avoiding waste in your software development process. It uses observation and incremental changes of your current process, while you incrementally deliver business value via working software.
Agile is about doing only valuable work, being nimble and able to change direction, in response to changed requirements or better understanding. It recognises that there are very few completely stable business processes, so software developers need to identify changes that will have impact on the software under development and apply effort in a new direction.
I recommend that you consider both approaches, as they are complementary. Neither removes the need for appropriate engineering practices. We’re only throwing out hard-engineering stuff we packed but didn’t prove useful on a software journey. We throw out what we don’t need, to prevent the weight of unecessary baggage holding us back.
[ This post is a version of my reply on LinkedIn to a post by Euan Semple,
‘A Plague of Managers’ (upon your WikiHouses?).
See: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/plague-managers-euan-semple ]
There’s an interview with Jimmy Wales of WikiP in CMI’s ‘Professional Manager’, Winter 2016. He says a manager has five functions: planning, organisation, co-ordinating, commanding and controlling. Wales would like to change the last two functions to: inspiring and coaching.
The ‘Agile movement’ is pushing the remaining three functions towards fluid planning and self-organised, networked teams rather than hierarchical power-structures. That suggests to me that the only function left is picking sufficiently inspirational strategies to keep the attention of your teams and to meet their coaching needs. It seems an environment in which teams should be appointing their managers.
If I was a manager, with no remaining knowledge of ‘how things are done now’ myself, I’d be fighting against all this modern nonsense and trying to maintain the status quo; lashing myself in position at the top of a tree made of single-points of failure for information flow, so that I could cut off any branches as threats emerged.
Ah… I see!
There have been HiFi, WiFi and Wiki. I demand WIWI (yes, wee wee.)
Ignoring the truth, that Wiki means “quick” in Hawaiian, and believing the later redefinition that it stands for the self-documenting “What I Know Is”, why can’t we have “What I Want Is”s?
There seems to be a huge disconnect between people who think of good product ideas and people who can build them. Imagine a system where noone had to take the credit for an idea and better things got built by software and hardware hackers, simply giving credit to the person who thought of it.
Money would be nice, obviously, but that demonstrates how silly any idea of “Intellectual Property” that doesn’t include ‘ideas’ is, in an information economy.
This idea has been: ‘a WiWi’ by Woo.
I’d like this to be a Free software reference implementation with a distributed system and open interfaces but if I’m stupid enough to give away ideas for the common good…
Long-time readers of this blog may remember when I build the SIC out of recycled Internet meme-pipes and any random noise I had lying around. The basic engineering principle was that creativity happens when ideas collide, so by maximising the number of streams, then crossing them, I could get the Internet to super-charge my creative process. In no time at all I had started three different books.
Lean practice puts a maximum limit on Work-In-Progress. The less you do, the faster you will achieve, the quicker you will deliver value.
The Bad News:
- You can either be creative or efficient.
- You can be really competitive or really care about quality.
- You can be decisive or know about the details.
Compromise is balance. It’s a Yin and Yang thang.
I shall probably continue to oscillate between the two, attempting to optimise cadence. I may come back to cadence when I feel I really understand what it is.
Warning: Choking danger – may contain small pieces of Physics.
I think most people have difficulty visualising any world with more than three dimensions. I’ve always struggled to think about 1-D.
A football has three dimensions. You can kick it somewhere else, a short time later. A flat piece of paper has two dimensions and a straight line has one, I was told. “Later”, “flat” and “straight” are clearly references to particular ‘higher’ dimensions. Draw a straight line on a flat piece of paper and roll it up then throw it and I have a line in four dimensional space-time. ‘Lower’ dimensions refer to, perhaps are defined by, constraints in ‘higher’ dimensions. As we are not yet capable of switching off time, I’m not convinced the human mind has the necessary hardware to experience one dimension.
I’ve always known intuitively that 1-D was very difficult to isolate. A line is the path an imaginary point might take over time if it was banned from the second and third dimensions, or indeed if we just ignored any movement through those two dimensions. If the line on the piece of paper had instead been an optic fibre on a roll, the light passing down it could still be considered to be in our conventional understanding of one dimension (plus time.) The only way it is possible to observe 1-D would be as a point at a moment in time, though it would have to be an infinitely small light source. We can imagine a set of such points at exactly the same moment in time. Such a line could never be observed by a human. I’d normally blame Heisenberg but I think the ‘infinitely small in all but 1 dimension’ thing has given him a lucky break this time.
I returned to this subject after reading James Gleick’s description in his book ‘The Information’ of Richard Dawkins’ thoughts in ‘The Selfish Gene’ that although we are all familiar with the 3-D double-helix structure of DNA, the information it contains is effectively a bit-stream, like the light in our fibre. If we watch a single firefly, flashing against a jet black night, we are observing the output of the one-upon-a-time dimension. That may be as close as we can get.
1-D is hard for the same reason as 5-D; we have never seen it. We now have the technical capability to construct virtual worlds in more than 3(+Time) Dimensions but we humans don’t have the sensory input equipment necessary to observe them all at once. We may need to take our brains to another dimension, as predicted by ‘The Prodigy’, and Max Romeo before them.
It is left as an exercise for the reader to estimate the size of a bit.