Stupidity, hipocrisy, and other trite

It’s quite frankly amazing how easy it is to ignore obligations without having some giant threat hanging above my head.

Hello people of the future, and me too I suppose. Have I told you how much I hated you all yet? Isn’t that a great start, insulting my audience? Really brings in the fans, I’m telling you. You are living in a world with better technology and more information than what we have right now. You probably think we are idiots with the information you have in the future.

Why didn’t you vote for that guy? He could have prevented the third world war! Why didn’t you save that obscure species in Borneo, don’t you know that that beetle has the chemical that is the miracle cure for AIDs!

Blah, blah, blah. Yeah, shut up.

Humans have this massive hard-on for moralizing and looking down on those they perceive as  inferior to them. Whether this inferiority is one of moral character or wealth or birth situation or fiscal situation or ideological bearing is of little relevance. Which brings us to the topic of this discussion: moral posturing.

Many an ideology today talks about the past, or others countries, other cultures, other social classes. Nearly instantly, those comparisons quickly devolve into a cheap point scoring exercise and accusations of oppression and hatred invariably by those who would demand that others rise to their provocations and raise their arms to action whilst they would sit behind barricades as they command the masses like a puppeteer commands an army. This ideological bickering, more so than any other, is the cause of more conflict and divisiveness within the human species.

There are many causes of this division. Tribalism and chauvinism is an evolutionary mechanism that has served a important purpose, it keeps humans united and moving towards a common goal. Many have taken advantage of this fact, and many a ideology has been born from this. An ideology needs to necessarily postulate certain aspects of reality and culture as central to it in order to advance the good of the ideology. Whether those central facts are true or not is of little relevance. Once humans have a common flag to rally behind, they would defend that flagpole to the death. To do this, they need to justify their own actions and, much like the human mind, the justification for what we do comes after the decision. To do this, they take all of the aspects of their own movement or ideology and pedestalize it. If something in their ideology doesn’t fit with their principals they ignore it. If those who act in the name of their ideology acts inappropriately they rationalize it away. Those who step out of the group loses the protection of their group, add that with the withering effects of evolutionary biology and the tribalism is only intensified. This is likely the root cause of ideologies, written right into the code we depend on to survive. Due to this, societies and cultures often excuse or cover up the bad and destructive behavior of its elements both to spare the conscience of its members as well as to maintain the ability for the ideology to spread.

There are many negative consequences of these actions and these ideological formations however. One could argue that this is a new problem that arises out of the increasing size of the human population from small communities to a planet spanning superorganism has created a dredge of empathy that continues to divide society even today. I contest this. Ideology can in may ways be compared to any other organism, its ultimate goal is to convert as many segments of the universe as possible into copies of itself. Ideologies often conflict in what they find important and therefore they are not so much symbiotic organisms as they are competitive. What values that they value doesn’t coexist in the mental environment, they get assimilated. The problems with obfuscating reality and defending bad elements in an ideology is a problem in and of itself, but it has other consequences as well. To bring up the point of hiding of bad behaviors of its members, there are reasons for an idea organism to act in such a way. Admitting to the bad behavior of its elements means that the ideology has less chance of wining over neutrals in the form of converts, but completely ignoring the bad elements would mean that the ideology is poised for destruction. These two factors combined means that ideologies that don’t clean house fizzle out quickly, but often spread quickly and allows its bad elements to run riot. This conflict happens both on the interface with competing or incompatible ideologies as well as within the ideology itself. Whomever wins out, destruction is often left behind in the trails.

One of the most dangerous things is when we come to believe our own lies. It is when we come to believe that we are above wrongdoing, that we are above madness and destruction. Ideologies have done well to convince us that we are above the crimes of those outside of our ideologies. Due to this, we often look down on others on the outside of our own ideology and readily accept deceit and lies about them. Ideologies have the unintended effect of not only deifying its tenets but also demonizing the tenets of its opposition, whether justly or deceitfully. Through words and definitions it obfuscates the truth and draws division and contrast in action and thought where there is none. It is a virus that infects where no medicine can reach, and can never be cured as one idea will soon  be succeeded by another. Those in the future reading this, you aren’t special. A thousand generations before you thought they were right, and a thousand generations from now they’ll be laughing at you.

Film project closure

It is interesting, seeing the project finally reach its conclusion. Throughout the span of the project, I have learned many things that would normally escape my notice and therefore I should take those points into consideration in future projects. It may be easy to push the responsibility into a shared field and hold myself responsible for nothing, but failing to identify a flaw in the group’s setup is no less damaging and dangerous to the final project and facilitating or even ignoring the continuation of such flaws is somewhere I need to fully take charge of. The project was not one without hiccups and in this post I would like to outline the personal failures I had in both managing my own responsibilities and identifying problem causing entities inside of the larger group vicinity.

All of the films inside of the group were done to a quite good standard, some being better than others naturally but all of the projects had ideas and dedication that makes it worth caring about. A lot of the projects shared flaws in the audio and video work flow departments  which makes it fall short of the potential it had, but all of the projects still had the charm of the personal investment of extremely ambitious projects placed into not only the product but everywhere between the drawing board and the final presentation. Due to this it is quite difficult to criticize the work put into the development, at least publicly where everyone could see. Art exists to span the heights between reality and fantasy and, whilst many groups likely fell short of their initial goal, I was still quite glad that they were able to claw their way through. Such a show of potential is something truly impressive in a group as green to the production lines as the teams I had the pleasure to share the endeavors with.

Alas, the time for celebration and praise needs to quickly give way to the reality and the reflection that needs to be utilized in order to avoid future failings. The first point of consideration is naturally the time management. When working in a large group, it’s a no-brainer that being able to coordinate timing is not something that can really be considered possible. In a lone project group, it is possible to work on the project on your own schedule without the need to consider when things need to be done or what needs to be discussed because everything is within the mind of the single member. Being in a team means that without proper communication it is really easy for someone to be working on the same thing as someone else and causing half of the work to be invalidated or for two people to be working on things that are so fundamentally incompatible that it constantly insisted in resulting in disasters. Our group was severely delayed, partly due to my own lack of understanding of the team’s work flow, and a wedge was driven between the team members. In the future, a way to improve the flow of work would be to lay out every last step of coordination and protocols in order to make sure that, insofar as it is possible, all of the team members understand where everyone else is at. It is also necessary to make sure that a comprehension of fallbacks and contingency resolution is also fully considered so that there would be no duplicate workloads or strongarming of roles from the other members.

The second part is shared comprehension of project goals. It is easy to remember to build the project in a way that most people have a basic idea of what needs to be done in the first phases of project design. As the project progresses however, it becomes far more challenging to keep track of what needs to be done as new ideas are raised and the project distends to attempt to cultivate a group that was now lost in what they are doing and what needs to be achieved by the end of project work. Our group was quite fortunate in this regard because only small amounts of changes were made to our project, changes small enough for them to be made on the spot in such a way that it could pass through the team’s popular consensus before any dissolution in the team’s project cohesion would naturally occur. Working in a team made it clear to me how important it is to keep a centralized setting where everyone can consult so that everyone can have a good comprehension of what is expected of them and what can be expected of the other members. That way conflicts in the group can also be quickly found, analyzed, and dissected into their components.

The final thing that I learned from the group is the importance of comprehending the motives and the personalities of the other team members and making sure to balance the team’s chemistry in such a way as to avoid unnecessary conflict. I personally have many vices but perhaps one of the most serious one is to amplify the vices of others I am in contact with. Being able to understand the team members on a more personal level will give me foresight into where the problems will be caused and where the chasms in the team’s teamwork will develop and therefore give me a chance to patch up disagreements before they have a chance to become debilitating.

The group project was extremely educational when it comes to understanding the ins and outs of group work. With this new information, I will be able to take a more personal and solid approach into avoiding the pratfalls and failures that have happened in the present project and guaranteed that the future projects can be bought to resolution in a quick and efficient way.

Peer Review Showcase Portfolio

It is often quite simple to see how bad of a person you are by how you treat the hard work of others whenever you are given some measure of dictatorial  power over them. I doubt I’ll be winning many peace prizes considering that I happened upon the site I was responsible for reviewing and felt like a shark spotting a 100 kilogram tuna that had its fins tied to the sea floor and its body injected with the most delectable sauce since Zeus himself poured ambrosia over Aphrodite’s body and started a full divine orgy up in the peaks of Olympus.

http://creators.ewi.utwente.nl/site/s1708961/

The site I had the pleasure of reviewing was a site created using the WordPress API which, though I couldn’t really allow myself to directly take marks off, was already painting large marks all over the site. It only took a few seconds for me to formulate my first complaints from then on, most of which had to do with the WordPress settings. The website, to be honest, had very little personality. Not only did it have the issue of the main project work being pushed to the side where it would get little focus but the site also bore the telltale marks of prepackaged prebuilt sites. It is likely a consequence of using WordPress in the first place as the site allows for little variation in site design unless premium site is active at that moment. These suspicions could quickly be confirmed when consulting the page’s source code which shows a heavy use of multiple CSS stylesheets and layered content. The page itself makes good use of the new elements implemented in the update for HTML and CSS which shows modernity as well as practicality of programming. The site nevertheless lacks the personal touch of the creator as well as the optimization of content that would require the visitors fewer clicks in order to access any of the content they are interested in.

On a less technical and more utilitarian note, the site makes good use of the navigational system provided by WordPress by allowing navigation to almost any page with one click as well as a consistent design in navigational toolbars that some larger websites should take to heart (cough Blackboard cough) but the design of the navigation toolbar is still quite a long read. The links are split up into sections but the splitters are not distinct enough from the links for a sidelong glance to accurately determine their use. The toolbar also bears the marks of WordPress including extra items that would not be much use to a visitor and therefore could be used. The links also don’t appear to be organized into any type of hierarchy which would mean that visitors may need to hunt through the menu for some time before they are able to come across the content they want, especially because the links are not codified under the standard website use navigation language line ‘home’, ‘index’, or whatever pages most resemble the navigation system employed on larger sites. The site also still needs to reload every time it wants to use the slideshow function and the images are still not put to use as visual anchors to denote a different part of the site which is especially useful considering how minimalistic the site’s design is.

There are many things I have learned by reviewing this website, especially by reading through the page’s source. The main thing I learned however is how annoying a badly designed navigation system can be. WordPress builds their site to cater to as many uses as they can and therefore they added many unnecessary items that, though would all be of use to someone, are seldom completely used by everyone. The CMS employed by WordPress is nevertheless quite nice and therefore I would like to implement a more private but nevertheless functional equivalent into my site. Being able to quickly and consistently update the website is a function that is indispensable when working with any project that requires constant changes to notes that would simply be far to inefficient to have to hardcode in HTML. Despite the site being quite different from mine however, I still drew many lessons from reviewing someone else’s site. I now have slightly more sympathy to those who do not want to read through the text heavy format that my site exists in or particularly want to work with the obtuse navigational systems. I shall make sure to employ this new information the best I can going into the second build of my site.

Work in progress
Work in progress

Portfolio update

I have made some considerations as to what should be put onto my portfolio page. When assembling a portfolio page, it is often quite difficult to consider that which needs to be put onto the page. A portfolio page is, after all, something like an advertisement for the owner of the page combined with a library of their works. Many people tend to assemble their portfolio by a single criteria or alternatively others put a selection of one or two of projects drawn from their folders and drives. There is also the topic of assessing the ‘target audience’ of the portfolio in order to know how to best order the information hierarchy inside the website so the visitors can access either the information that they want or the information that you would want them to see in a timely manner.

http://creators.ewi.utwente.nl/site/s1673238/portfolio.html

http://creators.ewi.utwente.nl/site/s1673238/zz_alcohol_enthalpy.html

http://creators.ewi.utwente.nl/site/s1673238/zz_hess_law.html

http://creators.ewi.utwente.nl/site/s1673238/zz_rocket_projections.html

http://creators.ewi.utwente.nl/site/s1673238/zz_cold_war_space_race.html

Above is the access to the portfolio page directly. Most of the information here is hard coded into the current build of the website and is therefore not CMS enabled. When it is however, I need to put clear considerations into what I will be placing on my blog. It’s all well and good to put all of the material I have access to for any future team members or employers to see my work but there is still some measure of risk to allowing them to have access to every piece of work I have ever created. There is both a measure of quality as there is one with treading on contentious topics which simply would rule out certain essays from being publishable content by any standards that such things would be judged. Due to the comprehension of this fact, I find it necessary to write a note here for my future self in order to remind myself of the things that need to be considered when picking the portfolio items that would be shown to the world when my site gets inevitably placed on-line.

The first is political neutrality. This may be an obvious point, but many neglect to correctly consider the way that they would come across when discussing topics that they would have thought uncontroversial. The expansion of the Internet and the ability for memes to quickly develop and mutate means that cultures and values exists far beyond the scale that they did in any era of recorded history. Things that could be considered completely true could and does find its way to the eyes of those with far different values as the author and hence not only the content but the tone, delivery, and sources all need to be considered when writing anything that will go into the portfolio. Tones that are entirely neutral and everyday to one set of eyes may very well seem crass to another and hence a neutrality needs to be adopted if one wants to reach as large of an audience as possible without having the topic of conversation be turned towards something superficial like the presentation instead of the idea behind it. The other thing that needs to be considered is the sources that are drawn from for information. In order to come across as presentable and reliable the sources need to be chosen not only for the institutions that they come from but also for the accessibility of their reading material when cross referenced with the audience which comes across it and what measure of trust the audience places in those sources.

The second point of consideration is relevance. Sometimes the best work that the author of the page has access to could be immensely interesting and well crafted but irrelevant to the target audience and hence they would quickly waste site space and broadband to unnecessarily provide information that could be replaced with similar data which would far better use of the attention span of the audience. Even worse than that however is how a poor selection of sources could have on the perception of the audience to the user visiting the site. A site of an engineer who places their high school poetry, even masterfully composed and insightful, could either be seen as the person in question not knowing what is most important to their career, as the person lacking focus and consideration for the audience, or as the person not having anything better for show. For a site of a Creative Technologist, there is a higher measure of freedom that could be employed but a heavy lean towards literature would probably not be what a employer visiting the site would be most interested in. Due to this, it it necessary to compile better data and information for the website as well as create something like a CMS format in order to quickly add and take down information in order to best optimize the site for anyone who would be interested in reading it.

Team killers

An effective way of seeing what makes the paragons of any field is to see what it is that makes the failures. As far as teamwork goes, I don’t have a very large sample size to work with. In almost any team, the need to get along and work towards the aim whilst maintaining what could at least be considered an air of societal decency often results in the team members, consciously or not, burying insights and mentalities that could be used to craft a far better cooperative for the sake of preserving team amiability in the present. Whilst many are likely to see this as a good thing, I see this trend as little more than patching up the leaks in the ship instead of trying to find out why the ship keeps getting ran into coral banks. I will hence record here the personality traits, actions, and team compositions that I have personally found to be detrimental to the success of projects that I have been associated with in the past.

The first personality trait I almost invariably run across which grates like a electric cheese grater tied to my face is the passive yes-men who like to lurk in almost every team. People who don’t put any work into the projects gets the go of just about everyone, but I find the intellectual procrastinators equally frustrating. Teams are inherently more unwieldy than personal work, being in a team means having to work with more people with more opinions on things that could be done whereas a single person can always jump into work and change directions without having to worry about stepping over any toes or ruining any plans that aren’t their own. This disadvantage however can also be turned into an advantage. Having more points of view and experiences can allow more input into the planning and working of the project, more specializations to catch out any problems in the plan before starting down any dead end roads, and avoid pratfalls that the team members have already encountered. The yes-men in general still get work done, but they act more as outsourced workers than actual contributing members of the creation team. They nullify the advantages of having a full team and instead turn into just another set of bureaucratic dead-weight that only serves to drain the already low resources from the team.

The second group I generally have issued with are of course the people more similar to me. Those who hardheadedly stick to their ideas and hound those who refuse to work the way that they want to. Whilst it might normally be good to have those with passion and dedication in the project, having more than one of the aggressively territorial team members will often serve to demotivate the less passionate members of the team and grind cogs with those with the same hardheaded approach to their own ideas. Without the team member good at interfacing and regulating the group members any team with even one of this type could easily be ripped apart by infighting and a growing gap in team dedication. This kind of rift can easily invalidate the advantages of having a larger pool of minds to draw from when the individual efforts of the team members goes into tripping up the other team members or stubbornly playing tug of war against those who are meant to be your allies. When the teams become an obstacle to overcome instead of a resource to be utilized then you know you have done something wrong.

It is not often that I get put in a leadership role as I normally work with public announcements and project interfacing, but the question I was asked today when joining the student association was one that I should certainly consider. When a problem arises between two team members, there are really two choices that come to my mind. One is the risker but the more profitable as well as esteemed choice whilst the other is the one I would normally take. The ‘better’ option would likely be to try to work through the differences of the two team members to mend their relations and try to make sure that they could become a part of a cooperative again. Parroting the points and opinions that are liked or required by the conflicting parties whilst alleviating the differences are both no brainers, but another equally important but often ignored part of negotiating is to try to find complimentary points. Most people won’t have the same goals or the same needs, but it is quite common for people who want two different things but have a common path that they could use in order to achieve their separate goals. Identifying their end goals, the fundamental desires of the team members, and constructing a course of action that allows them to complement each other is an excellent way to both mend team relations and construct a strong device for the progression of the team. The first course of action I would personally take however is one that is a fair bit more authoritarian and dismissive, but holds somewhat lower risk. I would isolate the parties in conflict into different modules of the team in such a way that they can work in their own sub-team without having to deal with each other too much. The option is a damage control option that I have employed in the past, salvaging the separate segments of the team and trying to continue to work in such a way as to resemble a functional group. This is mostly done out of selfishness as I wish for the team to do well but when considering the long game, having damaged relations in a closed community or company will only lead to problems down the line.

The option I normally employ as the main course of action is one of damage control but it could very well be destructive in the long run. I may want to consider employing the more difficult but more profitable attempt to negotiate with the team members to try to build them into better players in the team game. Oiling the cogs is good and well as a temporary measure, but I may want to consider employing a more lasting and ultimately profitable method as a first course of action and damage control as a last resort. The first group of the team who would just go along with whatever without contributing would likely always exist, so I may have to find a method of getting them interested in the team of their own volition or change my management strategies to fully exploit their expertise and skills through another method. The second group is something that I would also need to consider, I can either be less aggressive or utilize mediation and negotiation as mentioned in the conflict resolution, possibly by proxy, in order to better improve the team efficiency. Teams are powerful things that I will have to work with in the future as a course of action, not utilizing them to their full potential is a damn shame.

Reworking the novel

I really have been neglecting my novel for so long and now that I need to unwind from the stress of mathematics this seems like a time as good as any to do a little bit of world building for Ivrada so that I have something to read back on when I finally decide to get back onto that particular project.

Today was not that interesting, as far as work and university went. I showed up at the university for lunch only to realize that the teacher has prudently decided to abandon us students to our fate as fodder to feed into the mathematical grinder that is rapidly rolling towards us like some freak lovechild between H.P. Lovecraft’s night terrors and the creepy face-sun from every children live action show ever. I have had to spend far too much time dealing with an insubordinate computer program seemingly too stupid to process anything other than the exact expected result, written in the exact same irritating syntax as the answers when the syntax seems to change with every question, and the constant insistence in me doing things their way and their way alone like a proselytizer attempting to recruit me into their version of the brain eater cult from the era of horror film that existed solely to provide primary income for art college dropouts. I pushed my way through the different questions well enough, but the test was so proficient at producing a combination of frustration and rage that I simply had to shut it off for a long moment to relax and unwind in a game where I attempt to drown a few thousand in a warship game that less resembles a strategic navel battle and more a game of sped up whack-a-mole as played between someone high on acid and someone so low on IQ that they would very easily see the candidacy through the bottom of a glass bottom boat. I will likely do badly on tomorrow’s test, but that is neither unexpected or unfair. It would not do for someone like me who spent a good amount of time ignoring the teacher and focusing on my very important work of drawing giant tanks and watching videos on you tube drama. Nevertheless, I promised myself that today would be dedicated to of novel so about my novel I shall talk.

Ivrada is a world which would have one of the largest oceans teeming with the most diverse sea life of all the prime worlds, if not for the fact that its surface is almost perpetually frozen over by repetitive lulls. The pale star that shines far beyond the horizon of the world does little to illuminate the thin atmosphere that often has little more than grand ice plains, desserts with sands of the complexion silver and gold, and the tundras that are covered by the sparse and often stone-like plant life that could make a living off the pale light away from the equator. Looking at the world offhandedly, it could be forgiven when one assumes that Ivrada was little more than one of the thousands of dead worlds that line the grand cosmic graveyard beyond.

Beneath the surface though, things could not be more different. Centuries of war followed by the Alliance that was born from it allowed a golden age like no other, the nations of Ivrada carved out the insides of the earth and built beautiful cities in the grand catacombs large enough to support meteorological phenomena. Life on Ivrada is not fed by the plants that harness the light of the stars but by ones that dig deep into the earth to grow from the immense stores of energy that pulse beneath the earth. When a vein opens up and the ice retreats, the plants explode into action to excavate the surface world into a paradise garden of a million flowers and fruits that explodes into a seed so they may one day find purchase upon the nearly dead and empty surface world. Plants like we know it do exist, but they have but the tiniest spots in large swamps or the areas close to natural hot springs in order to compete against little but the weather that shifts as erratically as the life and death of the flowers that line the surface world. Beneath the thin skin of life, the plants dig kilometers through rock and stone to expand their kingdom whilst others line the surface of caverns and dig in with their thick roots to trap the heat and transience below whilst they reach far away from their roots like their grander siblings to form vertical forests that reaches deep into the bowels of the earth to form a paradise for the creatures that make their living in the earthen landscape. Like the plants of any world, the plant life of Ivrada is as grandly diverse and complex as those of any other world, though it divides itself much differently. Rather than climate and biomes, the forests, plains, and jungles of subterranean Ivrada divides itself by the proximity and type of vein that it exists besides the flora. Due to this, one can easily cross between grand gardens within walking distance if one would dare brave the hazards of the long vertical drops and the creatures that dwell within the bowels of the earth.

Far beyond the skies of the lonely planets the creatures that history has forgotten lurk, but on the surface of the planet life is as sparse as the blooms of flowers that feeds it. The creatures that graze the flower fields have thick layered armor in order to resist the violent lulls that would steal life from them far faster than any predator and can sleep for a century with their dozens of soft muscled feet tucked inside of their stony shells as they wait for the long winters to pass and for a time when they could come out and feed again. Small agile creatures with thick scales hunt in packs and burrow deep into the earth for protection with their fellow surface dwellers with flat bodies, thin frames, or thick protection that affords them some defense against the violent weather. Below the oceans swims creatures that few can say are plants or animals, but within the grand catacombs of Ivrada the life is far more versatile and more dangerous. Grazers still exists, but they have let go of the heavy shells of their relatives and have instead opted to protect themselves with their long tails armored with plates that could deliver deadly poison to even the most determined of predators. Other large reptiles prowl the inside of the vertical plains, their arms finding purchase in the smallest stone surface whilst they sniff the air for sings of creatures to prey upon. Insects hunt in swarms for any prey whilst the grand luminescent bodies of gigantic spiked slimes moves forwards, poisoning any prey they come across or laying in wait so that they could move in for the kill. Snakelike bodies hang from the ceiling, more than eager to snatch up any unsuspecting prey that wanders just a little to close. The light of the creatures, the light from the flora, and the brilliant glow of  exposed veins gave as much light and life to the deep caves as the brilliant shine of any star.

That should be it for today. I’ll probably expand on some of these points later when the idea comes to me or maybe I’ll just move on to doing the cultural development following the Great Shattering that spelled the end to the Tolzchlandian-Arasian alliance that nearly won them the Battle for the Rebirth. I might also go into the development of weapons that such a world would force as, like the flora and fauna noted here, the weaponry on another world would be very different from ours depending on what it evolved to deal with.

Teachers and Experts

I have been neglecting this blog for quite a while now. This is most likely caused by a combination of me being too exhausted from the psychological neglect that maths class forces me through every second of its continuation and the fact that I have been spending far too much time on World of Warships. I should try to do something slightly more substantial and something of longer worth so I might go back to writing my book soon. I made quite a lot of changes to the architecture of the plot since the last time that I wrote anything in my novel and so I will likely need to dedicate an entire blog post to getting my thoughts down and sorted out so I can jump straight into writing when that time comes. That is for tomorrow’s post however, today’s post already has a subject that I am dedicating to it.

What I want to write down here today are just some thoughts that I wanted to make sure I could come back to later, a larger trend that appears to be a part of both schools and universities. Schools and universities, due to a combination of a superficial importance that modern society places on higher education and the inflation of qualifications required to get a job, often hire experts in their field whenever possible in order to increase the total intellectual capacity of their institution. What I would propose here is that hiring the best experts in the field is not necessarily what is best for the institution or the students who occupy it.

In order to defend my position, it may be best to at first take a closer to look at what makes an expert. Anyone who gains legitimate qualifications in the modern scholastic system would need to have excellent control over the relevant knowledge, can utilize that knowledge in such a way to score highly against their peers, and have achieved a relevant level of skill needed to be considered a master of their field. Many people therefore like to assume that such a person would make the best teacher, who better to impart knowledge after all than the paragons of their respective fields?

Many students would likely be able to answer a question like that. Few I wager could count the times that they sat in a lecture room with a professor who had a voice they could barely hear, or a teacher who wanders back and forth so much that the students can think of little but to wonder if the teacher needs a bathroom, or even a professor who simply wanted to spend their days lost in their world of research and knowledge and can barely stomach the students who comes forwards to ask them the same stupid questions they have heard and had to answer a thousand times already.

It is an unfortunate trend when dealing with experts, one which a lot of people are likely familiar with. The skills needed to communicate, convey, and educate is a very specific skill set that does not necessarily mesh well with the plethora of disciplines that spans the academic landscape. It is something that is talked about often but nevertheless something that most people appear rather adamant to actually doing anything about. Whether this is from apathy or a lack of any personal contributions or some other reason is more likely a matter of personal basis than anything else.

An effective teacher can hold the interest of their students but still hold to the original intent of their craft, can maintain control over their class and yet allows the students space to develop, and can educate the students to the highest degree in the limited time given whilst still being able to give the students the ability to continue to learn even after they have left the charge of the teacher. It is rare to find someone who has all these qualities as the aforementioned traits are not something that modern standardized tests are very good at testing. Failing that, schools and universities continue to elect experts in the field and students continue to be left behind.

The first point I’ll make is that hiring experts might not be as important as many attribute it to being. For a school and early university level, all that is required is to communicate the ideas, concepts, and tools to the students in order for them to progress in their field of study. Most average adults would have command of the knowledge that students are striving for and, with a little training, would likely serve adequate for conveying the knowledge that is needed at an elementary level.

The second point is that expertise is often taken over competency at teaching. Any university is unlikely to hire any professor who doesn’t at least possess a degree two or three levels above that which the current student body is currently learning. This massively narrows down the pool of potential candidates that may well have all of the necessary knowledge to teach the students but lacks the level of expertise as the expert. Oftentimes this means that the final ability of the students would be compromised as a function of not having an effective communicator to convey the ideas they need in order to advance their minds.

The third point is that as a function of being an expert, the teacher and student often have a large interest gap that interrupts the learning process. An expert is unlikely to have gotten that far into their careers if not for their interest in the subjects they studies whilst the students could be there simply because they are passing through a phase in their educational career that has been laid out in front of them. This could cause two extremes. A teacher who is too passionate about their subject could intimidate their students or dwell too much into the segments of the subject not really relevant to the studies. A teacher could also be so passionate about their subject of choice that the partial myopia stops them from engaging the students to the level that they should as they assume the level of interest in the field in their students. A skilled educator would be able to match their students’ level of interest and work the best they can off that. An expert, as opined in point one and two, will not necessarily be able to do that.

There is not a system at present that can reliably select skilled teachers nor is there anything that can circumvent the interpersonal system of tuition currently employed, at least none that I know of. However, being able to do either would both reduce the burden on the students who would be given a more optimized learning environment as well as the teacher who would have both the ability and the incentive to work the best they can with their students whilst the experts that are less interested in the actual teaching could be left to their own devices to pursue their own ends.

Initiative and Motivation I, thoughts on blogging and human motivation

I started this blog in order to vent at the world however after just over a week ago but it appears that I have already ran out of steam. It is quite unfortunate that where I am is not exactly the verdant seas where I can just sail past and harpoon up a giant sea monster worthy of throwing a feast worthy of Poseidon. To keep with the ship metaphor, I over-fished and now I am left standardized by a tornado in the middle of an empty desert in what’s left of a rubber dingy and a bent hair pin. Is really is difficult to write without passion and aim, my thoughts can’t help but wander and leave me lost and looking at nothing. I just could not allow myself to stop writing if it would just allow my thoughts to slip and fall into the tiny gaps in my brain like the forgotten raindrops before they were washed into the sewer to be mixed with the dirt and grime that lingers below.

Thoughts and ideas, the little things that separate us from our less successful siblings in the genetic tree are not things I could simply throw away like I truly believed that they meant nothing. Maybe I should start carrying around a notebook, something for me to write down that which I would otherwise forget. Fortunately my education had trained me well in the art of rambling on for hours without ever making a point and in arguing even the monstrous and inhumane in such a way as to make it completely convincing. Maybe I should really put my mind to creating something that people would enjoy, something that I could use to propagate my message a little and gain something of a following. Imagining someone so bored and sick with their own life that they’re actually forcing themselves to shovel through my mental excesses for entertainment is something that lights up that slight center of sadistic glee at the center of my brain.

Quite a while ago, I created a simple little model meant for character design. I quite disliked the complicated essays upon essays that thousands have attempted to create in an attempt to formulate the ‘well developed character’ or ‘interesting personality traits’ that just seems to drives the entire premise of the writing industry. This overemphasis of complexity in the academic fields could either be seen as a vestigial attempt to over inflate severely lacking credentials, like the puffing up of feathers in a large rodent or the belief that if the problems were less visible then they don’t exist, like how ostriches stick their heads into the ground believing that the large truck full of angry hunters will just roll past them and cause them no harm. I however saw the inability of many writers to create convincing characters more like an architect who attempts to start building a structure from one side to another instead of starting with laying the foundation and working upwards.

What I created was a quite simple model, a quick plot summation of the character’s life up until that point. It was a three point system with three parts: environment, motivation, personality. Humans are born quite similar to each other and through their environment they gain their motivation and their personality. Their motivation defines what the character does, and their personality defines how the character will do it. Just this simple three point system better simulates the human condition than the hundreds of pages worth of dissertation I have read on the topic I think, though I am rather quite biased in my evaluations.

The problems I have with writing these blog posts and my life in general appears to be the same, I just feel that everything is simply so distant and impersonal to me. My words hardly sound like they are spoken by myself, they sound like the words spoken by someone else a thousand miles away by people whose opinions I don’t share and echoed to try to impress an audience who have heard it all a thousand times. I would like to blame the system that I was raised in for this, but truthfully I doubt that I could honestly resign such deceptive words to even the keystrokes that I print out with my hands.

Are you asleep already or are you still reading? I really am sorry about this. These posts really have no meaning, they’re nothing but meanderings of my mental landscape as I tried to discern, through clouded vision, something that even one person might think was worth sharing. I stand, I fall, I trip, and I crash with my bike and shattered hundreds of Euros worth of electronics as my feet and wheel yet again fail to find any type of fixture on the ground. I often forget why I wandered into my mind in the first place, what it was I was looking for. It was like diving through piles of paper and trash only to pause when I realized that the thing which I was so fixated in searching for has slipped my mind.

My writer’s pen is not working it appears. I can’t write in a way that would be interesting to myself. Perhaps I pushed myself to write too often and too much and ran myself out of steam, perhaps I have grown too fixated on trying to imitate those who write and entertain better than me that I forced myself into a mold that I could not fit. Perhaps I just need to expand my reach into other topics a little, the Internet is much too vast a place for me to talk about only myself. Often it is too difficult to critically locate what it is that I lack and what it is that needs to be done in order to make myself better. My mind doesn’t want to communicate with me in words, it wants to talk in vague impressions and intelligible sounds of movement that so easily slips beneath notice. The university, the teachers, the students, and the world, they are the same way. The most honest words are just part of the white noise of the background that drifts beneath notice and echoes away into nothing before they even had a chance to truly form. So few of them would truly place what they are for me to read about in plain English, so few of them even could. I really do want to hear those whisperings though, and finally understand what it is which they have to say. Just once, before those echoing whispers of ideals and ideas disappear once and for all.

Evaluating the failures of tests

It is normally better that, once I have covered one topic or another, that I let some time lapse before I covered it again in more details as (hopefully) a wiser person and therefore offer more perspective on what I thought at the time and what I could add to my accumulated knowledge. That is to say that after having stuck a few dozen ice picks in between the ribs of standardized exams and their advocates that I should give them a moment to crawl out of the pool of their rancid sanguine sludge into the corner to lick the puss and pretentiousness out of their own wounds before their pre-Cambrian pseudo-nerves are forced to write over the memories of their recent failures with another banal but impressive sounding series of contextually unconnected polysyllabic words that could have been a coherent string of thought before it was left outside in the cold to die of hypothermia and wolf attacks.

It rained again today, the kind of phantom rain that only really drifts inside your field of sensation when you lean too far back and a drop or two fall into your eyes. The rain left little impression and made little noise, there was no force of wind or roar of thunder to accompany it. There was only the dampness that drifted after the ashen plumes that only continues to deny us sunlight. The drops were indistinct, even up close. They didn’t seem like drops, more like a large swatch of a grand brush painted over the colors of the world. The greens of summer and the ambers of autumn that were so prevalent before were whitewashed away, leaving the faded impressions of a world that they once occupied.

All of this is only an impression of course, nothing but illusions cast upon a meaningless world by a tiny human mind that could barely comprehend the vastness of it all. To try to draw some meaning and comparison from the flashing footsteps left upon such a world is already something that strains our minds. To try to give some empirical measure to meaningless words that tiny organisms give to such a tiny moment in an endless cataclysm of the universe before they forever cease is meaningless.

Yet here we still are, taking yet another personality test that appears to be completely incapable of comprehending why it is that tests need to be taken. Last week on Pretentious Misanthropic Prick Being a Jerk on The Internet, we have discussed how tests are an attempt to artificially create a normal distribution curve across the test result instead of, you know, actually applying practical utilization as a part of the testing methodology.

“Hey! Too many of the students are getting good grades!”

“That won’t do! Make the questions more ambiguous, the grammar more incomprehensible, the responses more vague, and the lessons even more irrelevant to anything actually being bloody asked in the damned test!”

This week’s tests are another ball game however, and betray an even more fundamental inability of the test creator to understand how it is that tests should be designed. If the routine test is like throwing coke cans at the wall at high speeds to test how well cars will resist the kinetic forces upon sudden deceleration, personality tests are like using astrology and alchemy to try to discern the chemical composition of Alpha Centuri.

I think it will come to no large surprise to anyone that humans lie and even those who don’t lie have a massive overestimation of their own personal abilities. For more information on the latter please take a look at the bottom of any Youtube video. For more information on the former please look into politics. Both of these two topics are worthy of discussions of their own as both topics have a fascinating biological basis and role and they both also have large effects and uses for those of us in the field of creating and marketing products. Needless to say however, humans are almost always going to fudge up the results of any test we attempt to make them take if not correctly controlled.

The fact that we see a need to create personality tests in the first place betrays the fact that we are well aware of the fact that people are not able to self-evaluate in an accurate way. The solution which most ‘experts’ come up with in this case is that they modulate the tests and divide the question into more specific categories. Whilst this does eliminate some of the wishy-washy language endemic to the everyday lexicons of the general public it still does not solve the issue of humans being prone to feed the test faulty or completely inaccurate responses like a sailor’s wife feeds her fetus hard whiskey. At least the tests I was criticizing in the former dissertation would be able to test a person’s ability to recall facts, fulfill exam requirements, and communicate ideas in a literary form. The failures of almost every single personality test could be seen if we just dispensed of all of the facades of technicality thinner than the cardboard factories of the former Soviet Union and looked at the personality test for what they fundamentally are.

It should be noted that the examples I give are rarely, if ever, actually applicable directly to me. They are examples and I have them here to make an example out of them, I think it’s actually a quite enjoyable past time provided that you are chronically bored, permanently egoistical, or recreationally hateful.

Are you a good person?

[Y/N]

These problems are only aggravated when these tests mean something. In this case the tests are personal and hence the level of honesty would likely be higher than if those tests would be collected and handed over to a future employer. Even so, most people are more than capable of lying even to themselves to preserve a self-image that they have built up over the years. To deny that would be to deny who they have acted believing that they were and most people would rather continue to see themselves as a person they accept as worse than to be confronted with the fact that the lenses which they have used to view reality for so long was one that did nothing to serve them.

Are you a good person?

[Y/N]

Are you sure?

[Y/N]

Many people would probably find my observations obvious but nevertheless I can’t count the number of tests that assumed that just by changing the wording a little they would be able to completely overturn the spirit of what they are insinuating in their tests. Making the questions sound a bit more complicated changes nothing.

In a situation which demands altruistic self-sacrificing actions against your incentives, would you be willing to perform actions which would hinder your personal aims if it would allow for the good and for the fulfillment of others?

[Y/N]

In your convictions, are you firm and steadfast and unmoving as the lines to any amusement park’s best ride?

[Y/N]

Then of course they are the test that so obviously has the bias of the test maker injected firmly into the test. This would give the test takers, or at least the ones with a functioning frontal lobe, incentive to try to ‘cheat the test’ as it were. Humans have a natural inclination to try to play against any system they find themselves inside of in order to use the system to profit them the best they can. The ways that this ruins the test is less direct but it is no less of a pain when trying for accurate results that attempt to evaluate a person’s personality. If the answer the author of the test wants is obvious or even slightly visible, the integrity of the test will be ruined.

Do you think that Adolf Hitler was right in allowing the extermination of all of his political enemies and all of the groups he views as inferior to him? P.S. My grandfather was sent to one of the camps during WWII – Test Maker

[Y/N]

Other test takers are under the delusion that they could fool the test takers by simply shifting the complexity of the test onto the responses instead of the questions. All this does is move where the test takers will look for their answers and then the guessing game will play on like the shrieking band that sticks like barnacles to every single cheap bar anyone would care to name.

If you were a soldier in a war zone and you encountered children, what would your course of action be?

[Shoot them/ Kill them/ Sell them into slavery/ Find a safe place for them]

The problems are hardly limited to just these, humans are nothing if not ingenious at being utterly idiotic. I suspect I have only began to pick at the tiny trickles of trite underneath the titanic dam of humanity’s utter inability to grasp the scientific method. I fear that I would not be able to move out of the way soon enough when the trickle escalates into a flood to wash away what I have built, but that is not a concern of today.

The raindrops were still there in all this of course, but then they seemed so little like the grand bellows of nature and life that I was used to, a cascade of silvers and purples that would be unimpressed by the most extravagant of devices of human design. The rain here could be so easily ignored, nothing more than white noise in the distance that only gets noticed when I walk into the building and get annoyed at how damp my clothes are. The little splatters of waters share much with the test I think, they’re there as a part of a cycle that has been there for so long that everything around me has come to completely depend upon them. When I look closer though, I find myself unimpressed. It is easy to stand atop a wall and hurl insults however, and much more difficult to actually create something of affect change. I sometimes forget that that is the reason I brought myself here in the first place. Maybe I should create a new method of testing, a better way, a way divorced from all of this asinine posturing. A way of testing actually capable of yielding results that is actually representative of the world it attempts to gauge. That, however, is likewise also not a concern of today. The night has grown much too late, and it is about time I slept.

18th September 2015 – Communication Errors

It is often necessary to state and repeat the importance of being able to communicate clearly, a skill that a lot of teachers and socially awkward would-be serial killers could both stand to learn before any more people suffer entirely avoidable consequences. I used to refuse to speak to humans any more than strictly necessary partially due to the fact that it would then force them to write to me. Partially this would serve to undermine their attempts to evangelize me into this insidious mind controlling world ruling cult they refer to as ‘society’ and partially due to the fact that it would then make them articulate their thoughts and demands before presenting them to me.

Call me a evil psychopath if you want, I know my therapist certainly would like to, but I like to use my powers for the good of the world. By forcing the gormless gits to actually think about what they want to say instead of grabbing whatever shadow of what could be construed as an idea before spewing it full speed at me like a single break in their constant dispersion of pseudo-ideas would actually do something to disguise the fact that though they speak much, they had absolutely nothing to say.

I sat in front of the class reading through a fan work of some aspiring artist as the guest lecturer, promising and impressive though his introduction made him, quickly unwound whatever good will I might have had for the speech like a cheap sweater being caught in a large piece of lethal machinery. As I sat clicking through the gallery, the lecture drifting in the back of my mind where it sat ignored and neglected like the third child of a Victorian melodrama, I was quickly reminded of the web development lecture that came in the morning.

That tutorial which involved less web design and more wandering around and pestering my classmates. I stood, I watched, I chatted, I leaned, I balked, I showed, I noted, and I tried to help. Despite the chattering of the students and the clear notes of footsteps, the room still bore the atmosphere of void and emptiness. A cataclysmic wave on the order of the enlightenment could have washed the minds of the room clean to leave nothing but shells behind and have left little an impression on such a tepid yet resilient beach. The room was a purgatory, a waiting room at some nondescript official building without even the paper with the small numbers to crinkle in between my fingers. The gears grinds to a halt, the smell of rust and stagnation that lingers in the air as thick as the thickest of forest and as unbreakable as the nature of the humans that bought it about.

The web design class is, in a way, a beautiful illustration of the bane of the modern dependent group based educational model. What you see in every class, without fail, is a long line of students hovering around the web design teacher, waiting to ask the exact same questions in slightly different ways because the teacher doesn’t seem to realize that a lecture is to an effective communicational model what homeopathy is to chemical distillation. I was not even able to communicate that because of the line and what would it mean if I communicated it? The teacher wouldn’t be able to make use of any of the advice. It was like handing band-aids and alcohol to someone who just got their head blown off by a mortar shell, all I really wanted to do was just get out of the place before a stray shell hit me as well.

The lecturer today was here to discuss the methodology of utilizing telecommunication technology and robotic systems in order to allow higher interactivity with the world around the device. The use of technology is certainly very interesting when paired with the ability for humans to manipulate the world in a way that would be inconvenient or impossible for a human to do with their physical bodies. Drones have existed for a long time but complete banality appears to be something of a running theme, that and poor taste in music and clothes. The lecture then quickly broke focus and wandered upon countless topics of interest that utilized different technologies in different ways of affect the sensed. By this point, it didn’t matter how fascinating and engaging the lecture gets, the pace of the lecture has been broken and relevance and congruity spluttered pure black smoke like a jammed engine before falling over and shattering into a spray of nuts and bolts that drips sludge and grime all over the nice Persian rug.

It is an unfortunate trend in lecturers, presenters, and artists alike who appear to be stuck in a predominantly binary world of audience interaction. They either assume nothing of the audience or think nothing of them. The sphere of memory from the Gobot thing (https://potatohc.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/gobot-visit-and-being-a-prick/) is the former, thinking that its audience would be captivated by just some pretty lights, cool CG, and the fact that the voices said over the speakers could be extrapolated to form some artistic intent the same way that the shapes of clouds could be extrapolated to prove that the world is being run by a cabal of baby eating lizard people from the planet Neptune. The lecturer today is the latter, being too focused on what he found interesting to actually consider what would pull in the maximum number of students. The fact that he allowed, early on in the lecture, his tablet to be handed to the students so that they would gain control over the remote Skype platform. A move on the intellectual level of a hospital manager, wanting to improve the performance of his surgeons, decides to mandate that they enter every operational theater with fire ants trapped on the inside of their underwear. Communication 101 Mr. lecturer: if you want people to pay attention to your face then keep your hands relaxed at your sides and not wrapped around the throat of a hooker. Not committing third degree murder isn’t only polite but it also means that the person you’re talking to doesn’t get distracted by the kind of thing you really don’t need them focusing on.

The problem is further exemplified when one contrasts his stated goal of making students consider how they could use the technology that already exists in order to better the world instead of attempting to develop new technology like those people with genuine talent and ability. One could look at the surface level of the presented projects and indeed they prove to implement preexistent technology in a way that fulfills a new niche. How does this make the students consider that the technology being used in a different way though? In what way does this fulfill the stated goal of the product, the lecture, that the lecturer is offering the students? To what end did he go through all the work of buying all the products, assembling all of the videos, finding all of the clips, if in the end all of it could not even do the simple thing that it purports to do? Is the slide meant to motivate then? Something so trivial and uninteresting is meant to light the flames in the heart of the students and unleash anything but a rush when they try to make it out of the door and into an early weekend? Is the slide meant to teach them? What has any of the students learned but how to keep their gaze level fixed on the presentation whilst they are grinding through seventeen levels in their MMORPG of choice? Communication is key and the lecture has given me many things but what the lecturer even wants the students to take away from the bloody lecture was certainly not one of them.