Skip to main content

The Division Bell of communication infrastructure

Communication is the life blood of human existence. Cooperation is the mechanism through which humans achieve synergy. However, this requires a delicate balance between individual success and common purpose.

Humans are adept at communicating within small groups. This does not work without self moderation in any medium where anonymity, physical, emotional and professional distance play havoc in discussions. Harmless words in private may turn into public name calling or insinuations or caricaturing. Multiply this with lack of visual, tonal and "presence" feedback among participants and we have the phenomenon that we see today - a breakdown of common purpose and communication.

You can see this in many online communication media. You can find it in high profile articles or blogs if you go down far enough in the comments section. Instead of reading the article, you are treated to a pavilion view of "nature red in tooth and claw". It used to be Anonymous Coward that did this to Slashdot, but it seems it is now OK to be personally identified with such behavior.

Here one way it all starts.

what's in a name calling?
just words, no meaning,
if it so offends your sense
why, you should try heading for the fence

after all, we're (online) friends
anything goes, going by trends,
the past and present and future,
is mine to slice and suture,

I dare those who call on my act
to battle my emotion with tact
I challenge those who man this sphere,
Defeat less I am, don't force me out of here,

in my world are friends
who cuddle and coddle my ego
in your world are friends
whose rules of communication are crap, amigo

i shall break it all
i shall wreak havoc till fall
sinister proxies you are
for conspiring against the views of a star

i am the master of my corner
and I respect no one's honor,
whatever be my demeanor
I owe no one no favor

It is also, unfortunately, something we have to actively fight against, if we have to preserve the value of communication. It is also easier said than done, and the folks who habitually do this online are to be prized for their ability to steer clear of the division bells.

The Division Bell used to be a call to vote FOR common purpose. But where has purpose gone?

Is there a way around this? Silence?

Let's look at an optimistic strategy next.


Popular posts from this blog

Why PI is not 4, math is great, and other mysteries.

The other day, I found myself with an interesting problem of approximating a circle with the enclosing square which seems to prove pi = 4.

The paradox was forwarded by a most interesting puzzle collector, Surajit Basu, a friend and life long inspiration. See Sonata for Unaccompanied Tortoise for why!

Here is the offending paradox:

This is an example of how counterintuitive questions can be answered with a little calculus.

The key is to realize that no matter how closely we approximate the circle, the orthogonal lines of the approximation formed by inverting the square corners will never actually be tangential to the circle.

Note carefully that as you get closer to 90 degrees, the horizontal line is much longer than the vertical. Same goes with the approximation at 0 and 180 - the vertical line is much larger than the horizontal component.

If we take a quadrant of the circle - let's say the top left quadrant, moving counter clockwise from top to left -  we can imagine that each inf…

Ambition vs. Fear.

Most important things in life don't come to us. Nor do we get them by seeking/wanting them. It comes from letting go of the unimportant stuff.

The hardest part is letting go of the tendency to take the world as is. This is a habit of our past successes.

But success is not a destination, it is a STOP sign. You stop, wait, and move on. Too often, we are paralyzed by success into the fear of the new. We stall on the road to a new life. We need to break our inertia and move.

Our thoughts and thought habits are hard to break. But that is where we have to spend the most energy. Thoughts are always competing strands  - of worries of the past and anxieties for the future. For some of us, they are cleanly separated into rivers that nurture every place they travel. For most, they are like the torrents and trickles -- competing, rushing somewhere, stopping completely elsewhere, always mixing, morphing, competing, winning, losing.

Our thoughts are the potential difference between the two pole…

Architecture, Engineering, Operations - iteration 1

The world has infinitely more stuff to be "done" nowadays. At least in the sense of building/running an institution that uses technology, there are many roles that are involved in making things work. The world of IT and technology in general makes the speed and variety possible. We now have a platform of IT that is globally scale-able if we can put some new thinking to the old problems of "getting things done".

There are great organizations that do this well, and they use "modern" IT principles to achieve this.

Fundamental to engineering a modern IT (or infrastructure organization) are the three roles of Architecture, Engineering and Operations. Some would say Architecture is encoded Engineering-history, but for now, we will keep them separate.

The popular definitions for these roles are about "output" delivered or the "domain" of discourse. The personality drives that determine the actual performance are not discussed, as far as I ca…