Grin with cat attached (wechsler) wrote,
Grin with cat attached

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Just started reading "The Hacker Ethic, which I bought months ago and has been languishing on a sequence of bookshelves ever since.

Like all my favourite books, it solidifies ideas that have been flitting around in my head for a while, just waiting for something to join them up.

Such ideas include "The five day week is too long", "Information Overload is inherent", "Humanity's knowledge has outstripped its capacity", "Time not spent achieving productive work is inherently wasted".

Time wasting is almost a sin to me; since my only answer to the "Why are we here" question is "to achieve", time spent doing otherwise is shamefully wasted. This probably makes me hell to live with.

The very nature of my essay writing, a chain of sequential thoughts, rarely redrafted, illustrates my obsession with timewasting; I don't care to even start down the path of diminishing returns that is correction or optimisation, unless doing so will provide a significant net gain to someone else - the same state applies to IP5 - constantly improved, never released, because unless someone really wants it, time spent packaging it is wasted.

I'm a workaholic, in the sense of the Hacker Ethic rather than the Work Ethic - I don't think work is inherently valuable just because I've been given it, I think its value depends on its usefulness and interest. I'm also an information junkie (something I've said for a long time with various levels of seriousness) - I want to know all that's going on, and I want to know how to do everything related to data, servers and networks.

I can't. I hate to admit that, but I can't - instead I'll constantly work towards the closest approximation of omniscience; a task that will inherently fail.

To some extent I recognised this fact years back, when I noted "Never aim for perfection; you can't achieve it and the failure will bug you; instead aim for improvement; you can achieve it over and over again and it's self-motivating".

I'm not sure how well I've adhered to that.

Back, then, from this self-generating tangent, to the aforementioned ideas. Information Overload. The information revolution - 500 channels of TV, web, mail, RSS, IRC, IM, Journals, accelerated print publishing, SMS, GSM and GPRSs, have all exponentially increased our ability to receive information.

There has been no corresponding increase in the human capacity to process this data. Certainly, there have been no evolutionary changes; the vast majority of this information surge has occurred within our own lifespans. And even if it were slower, there's no breeding advantage to it - darwinian evolution's long dead, for humanity.

The cause, and the problem, is that we no longer need to, or can, fully understand our creations by ourselves. (Although, of course, I tend to forget this). OSs, websites, hardware systems, informational entities, are all far bigger than one mind, so we borrow each other's minds and have to hope that they really know what they're doing - although of course there's not always someone else available, so we try and learn their bits too...

And of course this increased datasharing capacity has long escaped from the office, or even from home; mobile comms mean it can follow you anywhere (except, currently into the tube) and inveigle itself into the smallest niches of 'free time', a concept that is no longer really valid. Hence the belief that, since the entire weekend seems to be required for recovering from, or restocking for, the week, we should really get another day's "leisure" to ourselves.

Probably so we can spend it coding :/

I'm heavily burned out right now, and I see no exit.
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