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Author Topic: Programming Can Ruin Your Life: A Fantastic Blog Essay on the Mind of a Coder  (Read 11476 times)
mouser
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« on: September 13, 2007, 03:02:45 PM »

I was going to post the in the Developer's section of our forum but in my view it's too important for that.

I urge all programmers and loved ones of programmers to read this essay.  It may seem pessimistic but it's beautifully written and better captures any description of the pitfalls (and amazing drive) of programmer-centric mindset that i have ever read.

I think most programmers will recognize some of themselves in this essay -- but it's real value may be to those people who live with coders and want some insight into why they are the way they are.

So if you're a coder with a significant other, print this out and give your loved one a copy to read.  It may help them understand why you are the way you are..


Quote
...Programming changes the way you think...
Programming presents you with a problem and allows you to eventually solve it provided you don’t quit. A solution is out there somewhere. Make enough attempts and chances are you’ll eventually prevail. Aren’t computers great? They afford a large degree of freedom in problem solving. If nothing else, you are able to make as may attempts as you please and it will happily execute each one. This instills in you a sense that failure is not final. Any obstacle can be hurdled. This is not true in the real world. While you may find second chances now and again, the wheels that turn in the big blue room are largely unforgiving. Time marches on in one direction.

When faced with an interesting programming problem your mind will chew it over in the background. Maybe it’s an algorithm you need to develop, maybe it’s a tricky architecture problem, maybe it’s data that needs to be modeled. It doesn’t matter. Your mind will quietly work the problem over in search of a solution. The “ah-ha!” moment will come when you’re in the shower, or playing Tetris. This practice of constant churning will slowly work its way into the rest of your life. Each problem or puzzle you encounter will start it’s own thread; the toughest and most troubling of which will be blocking.

...

Programmers become obsessed with perfection. This is why they are constantly talking about rewrites. They cannot resist optimum solutions. Perfection requires tossing aside mediocre ideas in search of great ones. A good programmer would rather leave a problem temporarily unsolved than solve it poorly. A good solution takes into account all predictable outcomes and solves the largest number of them in the most efficient way. This mindset prevents you from writing code with limited utility and life span. While it’s a wonderful trait to have in programming, the demons of scope and efficiency will start to assert themselves on your ordinary life. You will avoid taking care of simple things because the solution is inelegant or simply feels wrong. Time to think will no doubt yield a better result, you’ll say.

The obsession with perfection develops a forward-thinking mindset. The ability to anticipate provides a huge advantage because you won’t waste your time implementing solutions that ultimately fail due to short-sightedness or lack of imagination. You will constantly be mapping out flows and running the permutations through your head. Back in the real world, you will find yourself piecing together plans of breath-taking size and beauty that simultaneously resolve multiple problems and fulfill numerous dreams. You will attempt to kill every bird with one stone. The impossibility of actualizing these plans will be agonizing, yet your mind will continue to pour over every detail as it seeks to anticipate every possible outcome and construct the perfect solution.

Everything is now data. Every bit is worthy of attention. Every interaction is worthy of analysis. Your mind has been trained to do this since it is usually the insignificant or subtle bits that have to be rooted out when debugging. You will find it frustrating that everyone else does not collect and analyze data. You will notice details that others simply gloss over. Your penchant for detail and over-analysis will earn you strange glances and confused shrugs. Your decision making process will resemble that of your peers less and less.

The frantic pace of the software world will instill in you a sense of panic and urgency. You must do everything now. Tomorrow is too late. The thought of working constantly will no longer seem foreign or ridiculous. You will spend your free time feeling guilty about not working. But you will be working. Your hands may not be at the keyboard, but your mind will be.



from http://www.nedbatchelder.com/blog/index.html
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Armando
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« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2007, 10:00:54 PM »

Thanks mouser for that interesting read.

I think a lot of programmers and software engineers/developers fall under the INTJ personality type. Many of you are probably already familiar with the Myers Briggs typology.

Some quickly gathered links :

http://www.typelogic.com/intj.html
http://members.tripod.com...ersonalityInstitute/INTJs
http://www.jungtype.com/types/intj.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/INTJ
http://www.personalitypat...s.com/type_inventory.html
http://www.personalitypage.com/INTJ.html
http://www.personalitytype.com/types/intj.html
http://www.geocities.com/player2000gi/intj.htm
http://www.geocities.com/lifexplore/intj.htm


A test :

http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp

etc.

As an INTJ myself, I of course relate to the above mentioned blog article.
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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2007, 10:48:01 PM »

I don't know, I read a fair few comments and I have to say I'd agree very much with the ones suggesting it's all relates to some sort of compulsive obsessive aspect of some programmers personalities.

By about paragraph eight where he starts to discuss "obsession with perfection" and "Everything is now data. Every bit is worthy of attention." I think he has left the world of programming far behind and is really just discussing a trait some humans seem to be born with. I know many people who take these extreme approaches to life but yet have never programmed nor even considered investigating it.

I would suspect that programming is attractive to these people and hence the percentage of them is higher than you would find in other walks of life. But I do not believe programming breeds this type of person. To take one last quote, "You might hear a programmer say, “I like python because it matches the way I think.” Or is it really that they’ve learned to think in python?" I very much believe it is the former.

But still it is an excellent article and is very well written, thank for the link. I just happen to fall on the other side of the debate smiley
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« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2007, 11:10:21 PM »

Yes, it's probably more about some specific personality traits, more than just about programmers. But, the higly interactive-interactional potential of computers, the fast pace at which novelty and information emerges in this field (extremely stimulating), the amount of possibilities and organizational power at hand, etc., probably (I insist...) makes programming (and computers...) both more attractive and "dangerous" than any other activities -- for obsessives, perfectionists and system "lovers".
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« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2007, 01:20:04 AM »

i can't call myself a programmer, but i find almost everything i do on the computer can match the description at the top of this page. so i'd agree that it's not just programming that appeals to perferctionist/compulsive/obsessive types - it's the computer in general.
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« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2007, 02:57:11 AM »

Even though I will use the term programmer to include both programmers & developers, there is a difference between the two and how they think about what they do, so if you don't agree with this guy's essay or what I am about to say, it could be because one is written by a programmer and the other by a developer.

  • For a developer, the application is the work of art, and the code is the paintbrush that creates it.
  • For a programmer, the code is the work of art.

Quote
Programmers become obsessed with perfection.


I think we are born obsessed with perfection, rather than become that way.

I have been a picky perfectionist for as long as I can remember, way before I knew what a computer was. Since early childhood..putting my dolls away in their original clothing, including all accessories, in their original packaging...sorting my clothes by color in my closet.

If it doesn't fit my idea of perfection it annoys me. I will see only the flaws until they are all fixed. And this is in everything. And I will spend way too much time fixing things most people wouldn't bother with.

Quote
Is programming the road to ruin? Or is it that those with a predilection for detail and mental gymnastics find themselves drawn to it. Perhaps it simply exacerbates a pre-existing mindset. There are certainly other traits (stereotypical or not) that most programmers seem to share.

I think the latter would be more accurate.

I think most programmers will recognize some of themselves in this essay -- but it's real value may be to those people who live with coders and want some insight into why they are the way they are.

So if you're a coder with a significant other, print this out and give your loved one a copy to read.  It may help them understand why you are the way you are..

It really doesn't explain it at all. We are what we are, and are the way we are, before we are even exposed to programming. It's not programming that does it to us...it's why we are attracted to it.

We are programmers on the inside long before we even understand what that means or even type our first line of code. The way of thinking is already there, programming may just make that way of thinking become more refined.

Our kind existed long before computers. We were always the builders, inventors, tinkerers, and creators. Your grandmother may have been one of us if she loved to crochet. It can be compared to coding in asm. And you can be almost sure that if she spent any large amount of her spare time doing it, she was thinking about it and stitching and creating new patterns in her mind while she was doing other things. (crocheting was something else I took to, at a young age, like a duck takes to water)

The article does a so-so job of explaining what we are, and to a degree why we may be attracted to programming, but not really accurate about why we think the way we do.

A friend of mine once said that programmers are at least 70% control freak, and that you will rarely find 2 programmers married to each other and it actually working, because in the relationship each wants their 70% of the control and that adds up to 140%, which is why it doesn't work.

And that in an environment in which 2 or more programmers are teamed to work together on the same project, it only can work if they consider themselves as members of the same team in a game of programmer vs machine.

And if they are too much over the 70% mark, they won't work well with other programmers because they will want all the power & control over the machine for themselves and will be unwilling to share enough to get the job done. These are the ones that are better off working by themselves.

I don't know how true the 70% figure is, but I do understand the programmer vs machine game and the desire to win and be in charge of the machine, rather than the machine being in charge of you. (even though we all know the machine is always in charge of you any way, I am referring to the idea of getting it to do what you want rather than it doing as it pleases and driving you mad)

I guess she could be right about how much we want to be in control of things in other areas of our lives that don't involve computers, such as our relationships. And I think we may also react to a lack of control in those other areas by burying ourselves in our work in order to compensate for that lack of control. That we will do anything to have it, or at least feel like we have it, somewhere, as if to say if you can't be in control of your life you will go be in control of a computer, instead.

I also think that programmers are like drug addicts. There is no high in the world quite like the one you get when you think you have won that programmer vs machine game, and solved a difficult problem or completed a project, or found and fixed an elusive bug that has been driving you crazy. It is the best feeling in the world, and it's quite addictive. It keeps you coming back for more....and more...and more.

I think a lot of programmers and software engineers/developers fall under the INTJ personality type. Many of you are probably already familiar with the Myers Briggs typology.

I am an ENFP:

http://www.typelogic.com/enfp.html
http://www.jungtype.com/types/enfp.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENFP
http://www.personalitypage.com/ENFP.html
http://www.personalitytype.com/types/enfp.html
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« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2007, 05:15:51 AM »

I always show up as an INT* in those tests. For the final attribute I'd more so see myself as a P rather than J.
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« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2007, 06:40:30 AM »

 Grin  Grin Interesting.
Let's make a poll!...
Off to work!
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« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2007, 06:55:51 AM »

First of all i'm going to pinup this thread in my notepad smiley

My reply to this thread was
Quote
I’ve done most of the things of your article.i’m good programmer but still many of my friends got the job because of good GPA’s but they don’t have good programming skill in fact they don’t know anything beyond C.and they also have limited internet skills.

they just judge you for the GPA i have 8 point GPA but they term me as poor anyway.i think time & luck is the factor one day they’ll recognize as better & famous developer but it’ll take time.trust me i’m ready for that will try to work till the last drop of my blood.cause now i have point to prove.

i dont know how to achieve some things but your post inspired me,i have to keep balance with social & creative life.cause creative life relates with social someway or other.


By the way,programming is obsession.For me it's my life,if possible i even can't sleep for doing something.I know it sound weird but it's the only domain i love and i can't live without.I 've lot of my own projects on my shoulders,thinking about it & getting help for it on the internet for them is always the tough task.I even sometimes miss my friends who spend lot of life on park,movie theaters,clubs.But they do encourage me for my work.They are worried for my health,it is affected due to irregular sleeping times.anyway its not the problem.

But when i find myself in reality with other social contacts,it affects personality,i consider myself Developer than coder.Used many RAD & programming tools,languages,good at design etc.


I think if programming ruins life then let it be? I don't want to live life without making any footsteps in the world,everybody lives life in their own way but only few makes difference.But if i change few things or made it easy for some then i think served my purpose.

Programing is life for me,I'm just keep on learning & exploring what i don't know or understand.


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mouser
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« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2007, 07:09:14 AM »

While I agree some of the points about people having innate perfectionist tendencies, to me the key point of this essay is that it captures the extent to which Programming reinforces a way of approaching problems that can be both good and bad:

Quote
Programming presents you with a problem and allows you to eventually solve it provided you don’t quit. A solution is out there somewhere. Make enough attempts and chances are you’ll eventually prevail. Aren’t computers great? They afford a large degree of freedom in problem solving. If nothing else, you are able to make as may attempts as you please and it will happily execute each one. This instills in you a sense that failure is not final. Any obstacle can be hurdled. This is not true in the real world. While you may find second chances now and again, the wheels that turn in the big blue room are largely unforgiving.

For me this has proven a very hard lesson to learn -- and it's one of the real (few?) dangers of being an independent programmer and not working with a larger team that has to meet production deadlines and make compromises.


But it's this paragraph that most struck home with me:

Quote
When faced with an interesting programming problem your mind will chew it over in the background. Maybe it’s an algorithm you need to develop, maybe it’s a tricky architecture problem, maybe it’s data that needs to be modeled. It doesn’t matter. Your mind will quietly work the problem over in search of a solution. The “ah-ha!” moment will come when you’re in the shower, or playing Tetris. This practice of constant churning will slowly work its way into the rest of your life. Each problem or puzzle you encounter will start it’s own thread; the toughest and most troubling of which will be blocking.


i'm not sure that *all* programmers suffer from this, but speaking for myself it seems that every day i have a few ideas that my brain just begs me to sit down and spend a few hours (or days or months) working on.  It's hard to read about anything without thinking of new ideas that i'd love to be able to sit down and chew on for a while.  And sometimes i feel like each of these project ideas is churning away in the background of my mind making it harder to concentrate on what i'm *supposed* to be working on.

I have developed strategies for this kind of thing.  One of my most common strategies is something like "programming in  my head" -- if i get an idea for an algorithm or program that i'd like to write, i can often stave off my desires to actually program it (which would take weeks) by allowing myself to sit down and sketch out the program or just think about it while falling asleep, and try to satisfy the crave that way.  In other words, i can "virtually" write the program quickly and then push it off the stack of ideas occupying the back of my mind.

Another thing which i do now and i love, was inspired by the GTD discussions we've had, which is to write down all ideas.. basically to offload them from my mind onto an organized collection.  That seems to greatly relieve the need that the brain might otherwise have to keep it active in my mind.

ps. It needs to be said that i don't know any programmer, especially not me, who would for one minute give up any of these patterns of thinking, I/we love them.  I just think it's interesting to reflect on how programming can reinforce some patterns of thinking that may be incompatible with the illogical real world.
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« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2007, 07:28:08 AM »

I don't know how you figure out your typelogic but here is my score for peronality survey. Check it

http://test.personality-p...p;E=3&S=2.3&C=4.4


Please let me know where to go for typelogic test?

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« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2007, 07:36:14 AM »

Oh i got the results I'm INTJ. cheesy

Hey please confirm it from my posts or recent posts,i just need to cross check if the results are right cheesy
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« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2007, 10:43:18 AM »

It's not necessarily programming that builds these circuits in your mind. I think I started to pick it up in high school, in the freshman math class where we did geometric proofs (vertical angles are equal, etc.). These proofs require the same way of thinking that programming does (in my opinion).

By the way, I'm an ENTP. Before our wedding, the minister gave my now-wife and I these tests. It turns out that she's ESTJ. The interesting thing was how he used this as a tool to point out where we might have conflicts due to our differing personalities, and how if we understood these differences, they could be used to leverage our own strengths while supplementing the weak points of the spouse. And so far, this has been very successful.
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« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2007, 12:17:52 PM »

Excellent point CWuestefeld and one I probably should have brought up myself earlier. I'm currently working for a PhD. in math. The parallels between working on math problems and computer programming is startling.
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« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2007, 07:41:52 PM »

Programming reinforces a way of approaching problems that can be both good and bad
That hypothesis seems pretty reasonable to me. But, generally, I (as Nudone also suggested) would add to programming activities the intensive computers(networked?)/software use.
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« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2007, 07:46:22 PM »

… Yes, computers in general appear to facilitate and encourage one’s tendency to perfectionism, solitude, obsession, intellectualization and “abstractionism” (?) (and it certainly does with me). They provide the perfect substratum for the emergence of complex virtual neo-realities in which one can live parallel lifes. Lives in which parameters are much more easily controlled and (re)composed (to echo some of what App and mouser said)... as Nelson Goodman would probably put it. Computers are the perfect constructivvist tools!

If Abelard and Eloisa could intensely live parts of their love and tragedy through letters, how much more intensely can our contemporaries live their obsessions, career passions or even entire lives through computers (networked, preferably…)? If some of the problems of computerized “virtual occupations” resemble many solitary and conceptual/abstract endeavors, their power and abstractness are reinforced by something which never ever has had the same amplitude : their super interactive potential and, nowadays, their precise and sophisticated sensory simulation/stimulation.
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« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2007, 08:11:30 PM »

Ok... I omitted aomething from my last post. Seemed too long. But what the heck. (I'll shut up soon...)

So... Yes. I was just going to say that with these highly interactive and rule-bound machines (ahem, called computers?), the possibility of loosing touch with some important, healthy, sometimes “ambiguuous”, and more concrete aspects of our individuality (biological and psychological aspects : our muscular and cardiovascular health, our very refined sensory perceptions — and not only the 5 or 6 main ones! —, our essential emotional characteristics and highly evolved affective components....) and “socioculturality” (complex direct human interactions, etc.), the possibility of disturbing the optimal organic equilibium which constitutes the basis on which our great conceptual mind and virtual worlds have been built, the dangers of being hypnotized and confused by virtual problems and goals are… real. And so, yess, as a consequence, these imbalance will/might induce specific mental/physical habits and “infect” (a bit excessive, maybe) both our psyche and biology! Isn't the article is on the right track (albeit a bit extreme?) when it says :

Quote
Sadly, no one ever tells you about the ways in which it will adversely affect your life. The physical effects are obvious. You’ll spend most of your time sitting, probably in an uncomfortable chair that doesn’t promote good posture. You’ll fuel yourself with food that is readily available, meaning it’s more than likely processed and full of sugar and you’ll likely choose either coffee or soda to stave off the drowsiness. A coworker once remarked, “If it doesn’t come out of a vending machine, programmers don’t eat it.”
Or
Quote
The application of programming specific processes and habits to the everyday is where peril lies. The same traits that make you a great programmer can make you an awkward, misunderstood and miserable human being.

I might be going off on a tangent here -- yes I am, all things considered -- but maps, representations, mimesis however interactive and realistic they are, are by essence always flawwd, filled with “lies” and reductions (even if reductions are subtle and hard to see, they’re there), and too much of that solitude and abstraction, illusion, can have other detrimental consequences than the one already mentionnd and lead to dissociative or even fusion-like pathologies — like neurosis or psychosis  (especially on people who are prone to what has been described as… solitude, obsession, perfectionism etc.).

This is what needs to be avoided. Some kind ofd balance must be found. Because the possibility of developing an addiction to these incomplete (but somewhat more controllable and “perfect”) computer interactions, etc. seem very real (…or are they?). I do know programmers who are in a state of complete obsession, rarely seeing the sunlight and having real human interactions. I do know mathematicians who are like that too, yes I do! Some are okay with it, some suffer from these obsessions.

Anyway. This is not to say that computers are bad, but that they DO seem to appeal to certain type of people and that they DO reinforce both certain innate and cultural caracteritics. But let’s be fair here : it’s not the computer’s fault, or the programming activities’ fault : it’s a multiperspectivist problem which probably emerges when the right (or wrong) combination of personality/cultural background/software/computer… hhappens.

Quote from: app103
There is no high in the world quite like the one you get when you think you have won that programmer vs machine game,


I can assure you that there are other pretty cool highs… But, yes... how would I/we know ? cheesy

I should add (again? have I already said that....) that most things described in the article could be applied (and not even metaphorically!) to many artists I know (writers and musicians, mostly) and many scientists (at the PhD level — and, yes, some are mathematicians!). People involved in solitary inventor-creator jobs (artistic or scientific). One does not need to be a programmer to share this mindset, this love for problem solving, this crave for perfect solutions etc. (all of that in some kind of abstract/virtual world).

One of my most common strategies is something like "programming in  my head" -- if i get an idea for an algorithm or program that i'd like to write, i can often stave off my desires to actually program it (which would take weeks) by allowing myself to sit down and sketch out the program or just think about it while falling asleep, and try to satisfy the crave that way

Actually, I know many many creators/inventors who work that way. As a musician/actor/director, I’ve always been working like that. I find it an excellent strategy to achieve more, but I'm not sure if it's that healthy. Is it realltya matte r of choice anyway... The very famous piano player and ĂĽber genius Glenn Gould used to work like that too  — to some extent —, and to internalize everything.

Another thing which i do now and i love, was inspired by the GTD discussions we've had, which is to write down all ideas.. basically to offload them from my mind onto an organized collection.  That seems to greatly relieve the need that the brain might otherwise have to keep it active in my mind.

GTD has really helped me with that too. I’ve always kind off been doing that, but the GTD system brought a bit more clarity to the process.
OK… sorry guyt for that long post. Procrastination and computer intoxication I guess.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2007, 08:14:05 PM by Armando » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2007, 08:39:08 PM »

I don't think that anyone so far has suggested that all of this might actually be a good thing. While it's a necessity for programming, isn't the ability to systematically decompose a problem, or to plan a coordinated sequence of steps to solve it, valuable in the "real world"? Honestly, when I think of how many people seem to act like sheep, taking the whole world at face value without questioning "why?", I'm now thinking that we'd be better off if more of them were programmers.  ohmy
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« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2007, 01:15:48 AM »

good point. anything that suggests a reduction of social interaction is automatically considered a bad thing (well, i suppose research shows it's unhealthy to be unsociable - i wonder if any research has been done to show how wonderful being a loner is).
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« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2007, 11:14:47 AM »

i wonder if any research has been done to show how wonderful being a loner is).

Some people are happier alone (i usually am, but I NEED to find the right balance between loneliness, and social life -- maybe 70/30, or something like that). But, as Mihaly Csiksczentmnihalyi and others report, findings and studies suggest that, IN GENERAL, people get more depressed when they are alone, and they are more lively and happier when they rejoin the company of others.

As you know, it's not a simple matter you can reduce to alone=bad. It is possible for many people to learn to enjoy solitude and it is a very useful aptitude, but... specialist agree to say that, again IN GENERAL, it is an acquired taste, and it is a function of your unique biology, psychology, sociocultural and immediate context. Csiksczentmnihalyi actually considers that, in the long run being able to enjoy happiness in solitude is quite a useful skill to acquire is the ability to tolerate solitude, and to even enjoy it. For a solitary person, I'd say that it is also useful to acquire the tast of being with others!

Here's an small excerpt of Finding Flow :

Quote
"Alone a person generally reports low happiness, aversive motivation, low concentration, apathy, and an entire string of other negative states such as passivity, loneliness, detachment, and low self-esteem. Being alone affects most those individuals who have the fewest resources: those who have been unable to get an education, who are poor, single, or divorced. Pathological states are often invisible as long as the person is with others; they take effect mostly when we are alone. The moods that people diagnwosed with chronic depression or with eating disorders experience are indistinguishable from those of healthy people—as long as they are in companyw and doing something that requires concentration.  But when they are alone with nothing to do, their minds begin to be occupied by depressing thoughts, and their consciousness becomes entropic. This is also true, to a less pronounced extent, of everyone else. The reason is that when we have to interact with another person, even a stranger, our attention becomes structured by external demands. [...] By contrast, when we are alone with nothing to do there is no reason to concentrate, and what happens then is that the mind begins to unravel, and soon finds something to worry about." (p. 41-42)

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"Everyday life is defined not only by what we do, but also by who we are with. Our actions and feelings are always influenced by other people, whether they are present or not." (p.13)

Quote
"The strong effects of companionship on the quality of experience suggest that investing psychic energy in relationships is a good way to improve life. Even the passive, superficial conversations at a neighborhood bar can stave off depression. But for real growth, it is necessary to find people whose opinions are interesting and whose conversation is stimulating." (p.43)

Of course, some other questions that come to mind are : what about internet chatting, forums, etc.? Anyway, like I said, it's a complex subject...
« Last Edit: September 15, 2007, 07:35:08 PM by Armando » Logged

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« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2007, 11:24:44 AM »

I'm now thinking that we'd be better off if more of them were programmers.  ohmy

 Grin If all of us were programmers, It wouldn't be too lively out there. And hospitals would be even more filled with patients with coronary diseases, diabetes, back problems, etc.   Wink
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« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2007, 12:44:24 PM »

I should make a quick note about this essay. The relationship of a person with its job varies from person to person, but you can classify people in two groups: those who work for a living, and those who live to work. The essay is directed at the latter, as most people, even programmers, don't go nuts like the article is saying. I would go even further and say this is specific for the hacker community, not the modern hacker, but those ones in the 70s who spent tons of hours in antediluvian computers tweaking up to the most specific detail (and designing terrible GUIs :D), as I detected some ideas that seem to be recurrent in Eric S. Raymond written work (that is, I read some of the things mentioned in the essay in another place ;)).

That's all. Oh, it seems I'm a ENFJ, although that test was quite of short sighted for me, as all the answers were either black or white, no middle point, so I cheated (sort of) in some of them :D

One more thing (oh man, I'm quoting Steve Jobs). As app says, obsession with perfection is not necessarily related with programming. I'm quite picky about how to do things this or the other way, my room is neatly arranged and if someone moves something I'll go mad (well, almost)... but my medium brother or my mother are even worse (particularly the former, it's almost sickening), I'm a bit in the middle point between my parents stance about perfection. Also, lots of programmers are known for their careless attitude to perfection outside code.

EDIT: Rephrasing and some clarifications
« Last Edit: September 15, 2007, 03:30:58 PM by Lashiec » Logged
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« Reply #22 on: September 15, 2007, 04:01:47 PM »

Armando, thanks for reminding me about Csikszentmihalyi. i read 'flow' many years ago and i found it to be one of those defining books that can provide a paradigm shift with how you view the world. unfortunately i can't remember much about it as it was passed on to someone else straight after reading it - who then passed it on again, etc.

reading the bits you've quoted makes me realise i must have forgotten almost everything that was said. i was also working in an absolutely soul destroying job at the time so i think i found the idea of 'flow' a bit too much of a luxury that wasn't attainable for the majority. i probably just missunderstood the argument at the time as i tend to believe in 'flow' nowadays.
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« Reply #23 on: September 15, 2007, 07:50:00 PM »

Armando, thanks for reminding me about Csikszentmihalyi.

You're welcome.

i read 'flow' many years ago and i found it to be one of those defining books that can provide a paradigm shift with how you view the world. unfortunately i can't remember much about it as it was passed on to someone else straight after reading it - who then passed it on again, etc. reading the bits you've quoted makes me realise i must have forgotten almost everything that was said. i was also working in an absolutely soul destroying job at the time so i think i found the idea of 'flow' a bit too much of a luxury that wasn't attainable for the majority. i probably just missunderstood the argument at the time as i tend to believe in 'flow' nowadays.

It is a great book if you can distill and transform into actions some if the enunciated principles. (Actually, the posted excerpts are from "Finding Flow", a condensed and more recent version of  Flow, the original work. I do have both books here and Finding Flow is more accessible; its structure is clearer.)

M.C. is sometimes a bit overrated (and some flaws in his experiments have been pointed out since Flow was first edited -- Allen Parducci, for instance, raises some questions about Experience Sampling Method, or ESM, which M.C. developed at the University of Chicago in the early 70s for gathering data): from M.C.s perspective,  Flow  (and happiness) seem to be only a matter of following certain fairly simple principles. I generally find his ideas interesting and fascinating (and often immensely inspiring), but, again, he tends to dismiss some important facts...

BTW, there are some good summaries of the Flow theory on the net. One is by M.C. himself, it seems (or maybe not...) : http://web.ionsys.com/~remedy/FLOW%20%20.htm

It is not the whole thing, but better than... nothing!
« Last Edit: September 15, 2007, 08:08:41 PM by Armando » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: September 15, 2007, 08:07:39 PM »

The relationship of a person with its job varies from person to person, but you can classify people in two groups: those who work for a living, and those who live to work.

True to a certain extent... But IMO this distinction flattens a bit too much the complexity of the interrelated factors which can lead to these 2 seemingly diametrically opposed attitudes. Some “obsessed workers” aren't even living to work per se, but are just addicted to any activities which would allow them to avoid certain uncomfortable aspects of their existence they should probably face to sustain personal growth in other weak lines of development (sexual, emotional, intellectual, etc.) -- it should also probably be noted that identification with work is more common in males (yes, studies say). The same reasoning can be applied to the other category : many are satisfied (or have to be satisfied…) with the minimum of "working for a living",  for avoidance reasons, lack of awareness of themselves, or for very unhealthy contextual causes…


Quote
That's all. Oh, it seems I'm a ENFJ, although that test was quite of short sighted for me, as all the answers were either black or white, no middle point, so I cheated (sort of) in some of them cheesy

One more thing (oh man, I'm quoting Steve Jobs). As app says, obsession with perfection is not necessarily related with programming. I'm quite picky about how to do things this or the other way, my room is neatly arranged and if someone moves something I'll go mad (well, almost)... but my medium brother or my mother are even worse (particularly the former, it's almost sickening), I'm a bit in the middle point between my parents stance about perfection. Also, lots of programmers are known for their careless attitude to perfection outside code.

Some Myers Briggs tests are just not accurate enough. So it’s better to 1) do the tests (and the real ones)  2) and also read ALL the descriptions to see if other personality types descriptions fit better. It's fun stuff. smiley A bit like an astrological system for nerds...

Uncontrolled obsession with perfection is just a bad disease. Believe me...
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"I suppose it can be said that I'm an absent-minded driver. It's true that I've driven through a number of red lights on occasion, but on the other hand, I've stopped at a lot of green ones but never gotten credit for it."
Glenn Gould
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