Jan 262014

If you need an argument, if you think about it who doesn’t, you might want to go with Peter Gray’s article in aeon on the play deficit, which is cited, well reasoned, example supported from hunter-gatherer to the Sudbury School and to all appearances academically sound, or you could, if you prefer exploration to explication, check the LOL Cat Bible Project, any of the various Pynchon wiki sites, I favor AtD but Inherent Vice is nice, or if the enforcement side calls more urgently to your particular state or situation jump back to aeon and Dharma Dog by Anthony Sorge, who reminds us that control of the external more or less reflects the dictates of the internal, and that thinking should, in so far as you want to deal with shoulds, be more like taking a line for a walk rather than telling it where to go, because it seems likely that the language games of our discourse community (if we insist on using phrases like discourse community) will insure that we will remain locked in systems of schooling, education, learning, that will in the end sentence us to the very boredom that we’re accusing others of promoting, while what we need are more tools like twitter, which is where this wander found its inception, and tweets which lead to places like Notegraphy, with a thanks for all to transmooc.

Dec 232013

Too long away again, which, as usual, leads to some new directions.  There’s a new, or perhaps better evolved drawing series which will eventually show up on the gallery site, an experiment in form over on live, and here some short notes\pointers to things that have caught my attention and thus we can assume, influence what I’m about generally; by way of example:

The post header relates to the fact that I’m gearing up to go to CES and thus following a thousand tech threads not the least of which is The Internet of Things (1, 2, 3) which according to Cisco is evolving into The Internet of Everything.  Add this to ambient intelligence and I start suspecting that it has something to do with why internet evangelism seems to have become irrelevant.

Sep 232013

So we’re back into notebook mode.  I’m trying to come (back) up to speed on video (which in now in some sense cinema) production and that means I need a common place to keep reference materials.  Follow along as your interest dictates.

4K or Not provides the best general introduction to 4K I’ve found.


  • Hondo Garage I’ll buy from these folks based on philosophy alone
  • D|Focus promising cheap gear
  • FocusONE interesting follow focus solution
  • F&V Blackmagic and Lighting
  • Kamerar another possibility
  • Wooden Camera a Blackmagic accessory store.
  • Cheesy Cam a good resource for low end ideas.
  • Zacuto more high end equipment and advice including 90+ minutes of camera shootout

Digital Bolex another odd product to keep in mind.

Review of Lenses

My Dinner With Andre worth watch as a demo of how to make a painting that’s a movie.

The Air Force Collaboratory has a few scary crowd-source ideas.

Aug 272013

As you may have noticed there’s an odd confluence going on with the Live Site; as in:  I’m not sure where this post belongs.  It’ work related, because that’s where it started, but it’s turned personal and meanwhile I’m working on OODA poems over on live.  Meanwhile, a meta note about both: The large temporal gaps between posts, here and there, are the result of trying to “finish” before I hit publish.  It’s occurred to me that that isn’t exactly necessary; if Weblogs are a form of journal, then they should be time not topic governed.  So we’ll try a new format: If I’ve gotten around to writing anything on any given day that will be published at day’s end.  Post titles will remain constant until the I’ve worked out whatever it is that I think I’m trying to say.

Speaking of titles the current one comes from: Operators and Things: The Inner Life of a Schizophrenic by Barbra O’Brian, which is, like John C. Lilly’s Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer: Theory and Experiments, one of those those books you may not have heard of but that really need reading.  The pdf of the first is here and the second is here.  None of which, other than back-story, is exactly relevant to this post.  Last week I had one of those sudden life-changing-moments, which defy description, so why try, and I’ve been reevaluating my attitudes toward interpersonal interactions ever since.  One thread is this: What happens if you treat other people as things?  This is not suggest that they are anything less complex or complicated that human, but rather to recognize that if you base you behavior on your expectation that they should behave in some way that meets your expectations of them you are turning all power and responsibility over to what continental-theory calls the other. Yes, this sounds like, “You can’t work on anyone but yourself,” but I have something different in mind. Let’s use a wilderness metaphor:  You’ve been out of food for two days and your next supply cache is across the river, which just happens to be in full flood.  Telling yourself that, “This shouldn’t be happening, it’s late July not early June, and the river shouldn’t be this high,” isn’t going to be particularly productive and you pretty much know that, and since you haven’t eaten in two days waiting for the river to “decide” to go down is not something you’re going to consider.  You’re going to figure out a way to get across, or die trying, always a wilderness option. Now the river in this story is exactly the kind of “thing” I have in mind, so try replacing every occurrence in the foregoing with “Boss” or “co-worker”; how would your mind-set and behavior be likely to change?

Here’s a related gloss on the idea: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way,” which in normally attributed to George Patton, but turns out to be Thomas Paine.  This is one of those quotes that managers are prone to, usually not too long after they have spent 15 or 20 minutes talking about what the Director or VP should do to fix things.  What we don’t seem/want to get is that we’re avoiding the need/responsibility to lead while remaining particularly poor followers.  Of course the problem is that all these quotes make it sound obvious and easy, while practice is at best problematic.  We’re looking to be provided with answers or at least methods & formulas, while what we get is problems.  Yep, now what?  You can cross or starve…

Aug 112013

I don’t trust my inner feelings, inner feelings come and go. Leonard Cohen.

Which you might think was an odd way to think about agile methodology, but stick with me.  We all know that, despite all the HR cant about emotional intelligence, etc., the professional work environment attempts to keep messy things like feelings and emotions at bay.  (Whether this indicates a certain sociopathology in our friends at HR, which stands for Resources not Relations, is not our current topic.) So when we find that things have grown so confusing and out-of-control that acknowledgement would require alternative action, we simply don’t go there.  We don’t do chaos.  Chaos, on the other hand, all too readily does us, whether or not we’re paying attention, and, as R. D. Lang points out, “The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”

(And now kind souls a digression that more properly belong on Live, but I got here from here so:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight; somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

You might recognize The Second Coming by W. B. Yeats, which, who knew, was part of A Vision. There’s something interesting about the way folks around the turn of the 20th century got into impossibly complex theories, and occasional practice, of occultism and ritual magick. But, perhaps what’s truly strange is that our cultural interest has wained, though, as you might expect you can still buy the T-shirts.)

I said digression,which translates as I’ve written myself into a place where I have to figure out what this has to do, even peripherally, with what I was trying to say, which is complicated by the fact that I all too often write to find out what I’m trying to say.  In this instance I had a perfectly good sentence that I was trying to get to: “This despite the fact that some truly smart people have developed some very effective tools for “managing” chaos.” I.e. I was trying to work out why the people who work with and for me were/are so resistant to agile methodologies.  One, if not the, answer seems to be, “Because they are looking for predictability, which they assume they can achieve by modeling the past, or failing that by developing a system or six.”

I really need to finish this and move on, so, here’s what I think of as the point:

Every theoretical explanation is a reduction of intuition.

Peter Hoeg Smilla’s Sense of Snow

Which is to say that, “There ain’t no easy answers,” but there’s always another gloss and if you get desperate a consultant you can pay…

Jul 212013

There is nothing so uncommon as sense. This isn’t so much an effort to explain agile, which I am significantly sub-qualified in so many ways to attempt, but more a set of references for those who want to explore.  Let’s start with the OODA Loop, which is outlined as:

  • Observation: the collection of data by means of the senses
  • Orientation: the analysis and synthesis of data to form one’s current mental perspective
  • Decision: the determination of a course of action based on one’s current mental perspective
  • Action: the physical playing-out of decisions

The concept/method was discovered/invented by Colonel John Boyd, who you might think of as a modern Miyamoto Musashi.  Boyd, aka Forty Second Boyd, Genghis John, The Mad Major, didn’t leave us a book but there are some PowerPoints and PDFs still hanging about, as well as the Destruction and Creation essay which is seriously worth as read. If all this is a bit too blood & guts for your taste you might want to approach the same end game through The Theory of Constraints, which has manufacturing supply chain roots (think Toyota).  In very brief outline here’s the concept:

Assuming the goal of a system has been articulated and its measurements defined, the steps are:

  1. Identify the system’s constraint(s) (that which prevents the organization from obtaining more of the goal in a unit of time)
  2. Decide how to exploit the system’s constraint(s) (how to get the most out of the constraint)
  3. Subordinate everything else to the above decision (align the whole system or organization to support the decision made above)
  4. Elevate the system’s constraint(s) (make other major changes needed to increase the constraint’s capacity)
  5. Warning! If in the previous steps a constraint has been broken, go back to step 1, but do not allow inertia to cause a system’s constraint.

Types of (internal) constraints are:

  • Equipment: The way equipment is currently used limits the ability of the system to produce more salable goods/services.
  • People: Lack of skilled people limits the system. Mental models held by people can cause behaviour that becomes a constraint.
  • Policy: A written or unwritten policy prevents the system from mak

You may notice an underlying relation between mental perspective (OODA) and mental models (TOC); in other words both systems hinge on what we think is the case, what we think is happening or believe to be true, rather than on something like empirical fact. Or, as Paul Krassner would have it, “Reality is silly putty.”  Which brings us to culture.  

May 062013

That last was just a bit naive; maybe all of this falls under that heading.  Peter Grey argues that it’s pretty much impossible to reform education from within; he seems to have K-12 mainly in mind, but at the moment I’m not feeling any more hopeful about the University (that probably shouldn’t be caped; any university).  There are some interesting things happening; the Minerva Project is particularly interesting.

After a couple of weeks thought, naive may be a bit kind.  As in: If education is like reality, and reality is, as Paul Krassner would have it, “Reality is silly putty.” with the corollary, “Reality isn’t silly putty, but it is considerably more like silly putty than most of us are comfortable with,” then it would follow that education is far more open than most of us are comfortable with.   btw teh title aint wrong, sometimes the inability to closely follow conventional rules, of spelling for instance, can lead to some interesting knowledge.

Well this has drug on in edit mode far too long; long enough to stumble on the following from NPR Ted Talks: “We do not need to reform our schools; our schools are no longer necessary.”  Pretty much sums up the entire meme I was working on.  As in: the internet makes discovery learning all we need.  Of course how long it takes us to catch up to that is a good question.  By way of analogy: Do we really need the AP, NBC, ABC , etc. to tell up what the Boston Police are Tweeting?  We are at a strange moment in which the technology far outstrips our knowledge of how to use it.

Or of where to start. Who are we to educate? Who is our best hope?  The obvious answer is, “Catch ‘em young, the younger the better.”  But it’s not going to be a children’s revolution, nor I’m beginning to suspect, a student revolution.  There’s an interesting article in The Chronicle of Higher Ed which argues that business still use a college education as the basic bar for recruitment not because of what graduates know/have learned, but rather because they have demonstrated the “discipline” to complete a college program; less kindly, they have fully mastered the mind set of waiting in line and following directions.  People with college degrees have “learned” to adapt to the expectations of the curent cultural climate.  The problem is that’s not necessarily a good thing