Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

FUD Starts Early

Expand Messages
  • Rob Nagler
    I m half way through the War of Art by Steve Pressfield, and I m a bit shocked at his approach. I m in the section where he explains Resistance as the thing
    Message 1 of 10 , Mar 13 8:59 AM
    • 0 Attachment
      I'm half way through the War of Art by Steve Pressfield, and I'm a bit
      shocked at his approach. I'm in the section where he explains
      Resistance as the thing that blocks creative people. He's a writer,
      and writes fiction, normally. The middle of the book will explain how
      to "Turn Pro". I already have an idea of what that means through his
      talk about psychology. Frankly, it's unenlightened ihimo.

      FUD is Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. It's a marketing technique. A
      recent example was the announcement (and leaks) of Microsoft's Origami
      right after Apple's new iPod Hi-Fi. MS is sowing FUD in consumers to
      try to stop Apple's increasing growth in the home entertainment
      business. Consumers are supposed to worry they might make the wrong
      decision by buying iPod Hi-Fi instead of waiting for Origami.

      FUD is rooted in our trained response to fear. We fret, because we
      are afraid of humiliation (buyer's remorse). Animals don't get
      humiliated, yet they have fear. Humiliation is a uniquely human
      trait, and it starts early.

      Today is a CSAP day at school. CSAP stands for Colorado Student
      Assessment Program, which is also known as "high-stakes testing".
      (Read "Freakonomics" for an interesting look into high-stakes
      testing.) The first time my youngest took the CSAPs, he was agitated
      the entire previous week. He does very well on standardized tests,
      but the culture of fear around the CSAP is huge. We worked helped him
      with his fears by making them real, and at the end of the week, he
      said, "CSAPs are fun". I felt proud of him and our family. We don't
      care about CSAPs, and don't discuss them at home unless the kids bring
      them up. Yet, FUD is there, and he's only in 3rd grade.

      I was at school today to give out the Green Gear, which is a weekly
      prize to one of the kids who rode their bike every day the previous
      week (see freiker.org for details about the program). The winner
      happened to be in my other son's 5th grade class. As I was
      approaching the school, I saw three boys running from the parking lot
      in t-shirts and sneakers through the heavy snow. They were in Benji's
      class, and they were carrying goodies and giggling. I know them and
      joked about it being cold. 5th grade boys are often immune to cold if
      they are pre-occuppied. These boys certainly were.

      I went to Benji's class, and it was like the inmates had taken over
      the asylum. I had no idea it was a CSAP day. I asked the teacher if
      the inmates had indeed taken over and she laughed, and said they were
      starting CSAPs with some sour suckers and gum to get the kids amped
      up. I didn't see the Green Gear winner and she told me he was with
      another teacher whom I didn't know. Several kids immediately raised
      their hands to show me. She allowed one of the kids to show me to the
      other teacher's room.

      Inside, the mood was completely different. Three kids, facing the
      north, south, and east walls. No laughter. No candy. The door was
      closed. I entered without knocking, because I wanted the boy to have
      a treat before starting the CSAP. The teacher was visibly agitated
      that I entered without knocking. I didn't see the boy, because he was
      facing a wall that was blocked by a closet. The teacher pointed over
      there, saying "He's here.". I gave him the prize and his $10, and at
      this point I was feeling embarrassed. However, I perserved with my
      ritual prize ceremony in the face of FUD and took his picture. I take
      pictures of all the Freikers of the Week. The teacher interrupted
      with a stern "We are trying to start the CSAP." I said, "I know" and
      proceeded to take the picture anyway. I knew that it would help the
      boy, because he would be starting off proud of his accomplishment of
      Freiker of the Week. My interruption lasted about 30 seconds. I left
      right after.

      Those three kids were being trained to be fearful. They didn't know
      it, and the teacher obviously didn't know it. I know her husband, and
      he's a great guy. I'm sure she's a great person, too. However, she
      takes her job very seriously. Too seriously imiho. She was training
      the kids to fear failure by her seriousness and huffiness. She was
      trying to embarrass me. It worked inside, but I didn't let it show.
      She also was setting up a culture of fear.

      I don't know why the kids were being isolated, but the room felt like
      a morgue. They hadn't actually started taking the test. They were
      waiting, and she was talking just one of the students. She could have
      continued preparing the child, and given a smile to the other boy for
      having won the Green Gear.

      Instead, I suspect she was afraid that the disruption would hurt their
      chances of doing well. Well-meaning behavior can instill fear just
      like everything else. (My well-meaning interruption this morning
      might have instilled fear in the other kids, because they might have
      feared they had less time to do the test. I weighed the risks before
      entering, and in hindsight, I'm fairly sure my quick risk-benefit
      analysis was right. Read Blink by Gladwell for an insight into
      instantaneous risk-benefit analysis.)

      Our brains take about 30 years to mature (The Neuroscience of
      Psychotherapy by Cozolino), and brain development dramatically slows
      by the time we are 20. Fastest growth is during our primary school
      years. Humiliation is a strong part of that early training. We get
      embarrassed because we fear humiliation by our peers, parents,
      teachers, extended family, etc. Very early on, we stop taking
      chances. It's why most people don't commit crimes, and it's why
      people fear speaking in public more than death. You don't have to be
      embarrassed after death, but it's pretty embarrassing even to the most
      enlightened speakers to be laughed at by a roomful of people. And
      even some some people having near death experiences are embarrassed
      about what is happening to them (Underground by Murakami).

      Pressfield has it right that Resistance is the reason we don't sit
      down to program. Instead we get a snack, write an email about FUD, or
      shoot baskets or whatever. Resistance is FUD. FUD is rooted in fear,
      a deep-seated fear of humiliation.

      Failure in itself is not scary. If you fail in a forest, there's
      nobody around to embarrass you. We all take more risks when people
      aren't watching us, and even more risks when we feel that we won't get
      caught (viz Enron, Adelphia, etc.) It's the fear of public failure
      that prevents us from writing code, or for example, writing a book.
      I've done both, and it takes me longer than a lot of people, because I
      am deeply afraid of public failure.

      Psychologists can help with this. You can't "Turn Pro", just because
      you want to. The will isn't strong enough. If it were, Pressfield's
      right, there wouldn't be any wars and everybody would be happy enough.
      We would will ourselves to be happy, to understand our neighbors'
      points of view, to be satisfied with our current circumstances, and to
      love everybody. That ain't reality. Desire (aka greed) can't
      dominate fear unless we are trained from a very early age to not fear
      people, that is, to not be afraid of people laughing at us. Sticks
      and stones break our bones, and laughter makes us cry, usually very
      deeply inside.

      I'm still undoing my fear-based upbringing with my psychologist.
      She's done a great job of keeping me focused, although I'm a master at
      diverting her and myself away from my deep-seated fears (viz this
      email :-). It's pretty much to the point where all she has to do is
      remind me, "You know why you did [that behavior]". Yet, she still
      surprises me every visit with her insight into the roots of my
      behavior.

      If you have ever worked with me or even read my book or code, you know
      I have a very strong will. Yet, my fears are still stronger. "But,
      as so often happens, fear has clouded their judgement." (Paul Graham)
      It clouds mine all the time.

      Exercise for the reader: At the end of today (whenever today is),
      count the number of times fear in all its manifestations (humiliation,
      physical safety, financial security, etc.) changed the way you
      behaved. If you come up with less than five and you actually went
      outside your house, you are probably ignorant of many of your fears,
      or you are the Dalai Lama.

      Rob

      P.S. If the Dalai Lama is reading this, please contact me about a job
      at bivio. We're always looking for truly fearless programmers,
      even when they don't know how to program. :-)
    • Chris Winters
      ... What a great post, thanks Rob. You don t have a blog for stuff like this, do you? Chris
      Message 2 of 10 , Mar 13 10:38 AM
      • 0 Attachment
        On 3/13/06, Rob Nagler <nagler@...> wrote:
        > I'm half way through the War of Art by Steve Pressfield, and I'm a bit
        > shocked at his approach. I'm in the section where he explains
        > Resistance as the thing that blocks creative people.
        > ...

        What a great post, thanks Rob. You don't have a blog for stuff like
        this, do you?

        Chris
      • Rob Nagler
        ... Thanks. No, I don t blog. I find it much easier to write text in Emacs and type C-c C-c. :-) Rob
        Message 3 of 10 , Mar 13 12:01 PM
        • 0 Attachment
          Chris Winters writes:
          > What a great post, thanks Rob. You don't have a blog for stuff like
          > this, do you?

          Thanks. No, I don't blog. I find it much easier to write text in
          Emacs and type C-c C-c. :-)

          Rob
        • apv
          ... Well, now I m worried about blogging. I thought it was a good idea but now I m not certain. I m also quite scared because I ve been using vim since I was
          Message 4 of 10 , Mar 13 12:09 PM
          • 0 Attachment
            On Monday, March 13, 2006, at 12:01 PM, Rob Nagler wrote:
            > Chris Winters writes:
            >> What a great post, thanks Rob. You don't have a blog for stuff like
            >> this, do you?
            >
            > Thanks. No, I don't blog. I find it much easier to write text in
            > Emacs and type C-c C-c. :-)
            >
            Well, now I'm worried about blogging. I thought it was a good idea
            but now I'm not certain. I'm also quite scared because I've
            been using vim since I was told it was the "much easiest."
            You've made me doubt everything today.


            Paralyzed,
            -Ashley
          • Rob Nagler
            ... Rob
            Message 5 of 10 , Mar 13 12:37 PM
            • 0 Attachment
              apv writes:
              > Well, now I'm worried about blogging. I thought it was a good idea
              > but now I'm not certain. I'm also quite scared because I've
              > been using vim since I was told it was the "much easiest."
              > You've made me doubt everything today.

              :-)

              Rob
            • Mark A. Hershberger
              ... What a coincidence! I write on my weblog by typing text in emacs and typing C-c C-c! (weblogger.el is my secret weapon.) /me ducks -- http://hexmode.com/
              Message 6 of 10 , Mar 13 7:26 PM
              • 0 Attachment
                apv wrote:
                > On Monday, March 13, 2006, at 12:01 PM, Rob Nagler wrote:
                >
                >> Thanks. No, I don't blog. I find it much easier to write text in
                >> Emacs and type C-c C-c. :-)
                >>

                What a coincidence! I write on my weblog by typing text in emacs and
                typing C-c C-c! (weblogger.el is my secret weapon.)

                /me ducks

                --
                http://hexmode.com/
                GPG Fingerprint: 7E15 362D A32C DFAB E4D2 B37A 735E F10A 2DFC BFF5

                In the end, the only events in life worth telling are those in which
                the imperishable world erupted into this transitory world. --Carl Jung





                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Greg C
                Hey Rob, you aughta blog. Another interesting read is Douglas Rushkoff s Coercion
                Message 7 of 10 , Mar 15 1:58 PM
                • 0 Attachment
                  Hey Rob, you aughta blog.

                  Another interesting read is Douglas Rushkoff's "Coercion"
                  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/157322829X/qid=1142457712/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/104-4854033-0932710?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

                  He talks about how FUD is used in marketing, but really effective marketing
                  goes beyond that, attempting to instill in the "customer" the notion that the
                  only relief from their fear is in the use of a particular product.

                  Perhaps there's not a lot of difference between the way the Patriot Act has
                  been sold to the American public, and the way mouthwash is sold.

                  Greg


                  --- Rob Nagler <nagler@...> wrote:

                  > I'm half way through the War of Art by Steve Pressfield, and I'm a bit
                  > shocked at his approach. I'm in the section where he explains
                  > Resistance as the thing that blocks creative people. He's a writer,
                  > and writes fiction, normally. The middle of the book will explain how
                  > to "Turn Pro". I already have an idea of what that means through his
                  > talk about psychology. Frankly, it's unenlightened ihimo.
                  >
                  > FUD is Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. It's a marketing technique.

                  [...]


                  __________________________________________________
                  Do You Yahoo!?
                  Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
                  http://mail.yahoo.com
                • Rob Nagler
                  ... In a way I do. It s not fancy like other blogs, and it is communal, instead of me, it s we . The nice thing about this blog is that is short and to the
                  Message 8 of 10 , Mar 18 9:38 AM
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Greg C writes:
                    > Hey Rob, you aughta blog.

                    In a way I do. It's not fancy like other blogs, and it is communal,
                    instead of me, it's "we". The nice thing about this blog is that is
                    short and to the point, and gives the programming community something
                    they usually don't get with other blogs. Scroll down to the word
                    CHANGES:

                    http://petshop.bivio.biz/src?s=Bivio::bOP

                    Rob
                  • Rob Nagler
                    ... Since there s been an overwhelming demand for a blog, and since this list has been getting more noise than signal lately (those buggers registered a bunch
                    Message 9 of 10 , Mar 18 5:16 PM
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Mark A. Hershberger writes:
                      > What a coincidence! I write on my weblog by typing text in emacs and
                      > typing C-c C-c! (weblogger.el is my secret weapon.)

                      :-)

                      Since there's been an overwhelming demand for a blog, and since this
                      list has been getting more noise than signal lately (those buggers
                      registered a bunch of addresses a while ago, and are using them. I'm
                      tempted to kill all .in and .cn addresses in attempt to stop the
                      blight, but I digress...), I'll write a bit more about a recent bOP
                      change. FYI, I am writing this as much for bivions as for the OSS
                      community, just like I write code for my customers as much as for the
                      programming community...

                      I added a Wiki (per a customer request, of course :-) to bOP this
                      week. I also added a feature that allows our customer to use the Wiki
                      to write help text. WikiView.pm outputs XHTML, and the customer can
                      control the L&F by adding a base.css to the wiki directory. And yes,
                      as with everything in bOP, each Realm can have its own Wiki.

                      In the process of creating the Wiki, I was trying to figure out why
                      blogs, wikis, etc. are interesting. They are all CMS technologies and
                      they compete with each other. In bOP, they work together. To create
                      a blog, all you'd have to do is render the RealmFiles in a Table
                      ordered by date with WikiView. A blog is a chronological wiki. A
                      wiki is a blog with clear and uniform naming.

                      The way I see it, Wikis, blogs, html, etc. are an attempt at
                      decoupling the content from the presentation. It's a problem the
                      software industry has been repeatedly solving since at least the
                      1960s. It's really not that complex a problem -- hence the
                      re-inventions. It seems to me that programmers like solving simple
                      problems with complex solutions, because it's too hard to actually
                      write and re-use good abstractions. It's one of the reasons why CSS
                      is so messed up even though there were innumerable better solutions to
                      the problem of decoupling formatting from content prior to the
                      invention of CSS, but I digress again...

                      Why did I write my own wiki? Blogs and wikis get one thing wrong that
                      bOP gets right: groupware. They focus on the content creation and
                      naming, which is a trival problem, and they often do a bad job at it
                      imiho. weblogger.el seems like an odd mix of bad ideas, too. Why
                      does it use XML-RPC, when WebDAV has been around longer and is
                      supported by more web servers?

                      The two problems CMSes solve that general groupware systems don't
                      solve: naming and formatting. Groupware sometimes handles formatting,
                      but the point of groupware is to solve the
                      security-for-shared-resources problem. In other words, good groupware
                      gives the appropriate access to files and other communications to
                      people in a group. The formatting problem is something that you throw
                      on top of groupware, because people do need to format their content
                      every now and then. CMSes also handle versioning, but that's not the
                      topic I'd like to talk about today, and it really is distinct from
                      naming and formatting.

                      Assuming you've solved the file access problem, you'll use those
                      abstractions for the Wiki so all I have to think about is naming and
                      formatting. Naming in Wikis is just fine. CamelCase works, and I
                      just used that. You also want to match email addresses, domain names,
                      and local file references, and so one. In our wiki, you refer to an
                      image in the wiki folder by naming it, e.g mypicture.jpg. The wiki
                      formatter turns it into an <img> link just as it turns emails into
                      mailto's. (This is a private wiki so we don't care about hiding
                      addresses, and if we needed to, we could make the mailto: be a local
                      form email so the address doesn't get public.)

                      The general formatting problem is interesting. Just like this email,
                      I use blank lines for paragraph delimiters. I also allowed _italics_
                      and *bold*, but that's it. I didn't want to invent my own formatting
                      language, and I wanted to keep the essence of a wiki which is: it's
                      the content stupid. If you want to format, use HTML, Illustrator, or
                      TeX.

                      I tried to avoid the introduction of syntax for names of things,
                      because an interpreter can easily discern between the many types of
                      external objects we need to name and ordinary natural language.

                      I do know my customer wants bulleted lists, and a few other things
                      like strikeout and underline. I also know that with a collaborative
                      mechanism, there would be a price to pay if the syntax was not easily
                      usable by experts in HTML, and at the same time, understood by
                      people who don't like matching up angle brackets and tags so here's
                      what I came up with:

                      @ul
                      @li The syntax uses html tags so I didn't invent the names.
                      @li Similar tags close each other like good ole HTML 1.0.
                      @li Tags must begin at the start of a line so @perlvar is not treated specially.
                      @li
                      Only formatting tags were included, not @form, and @script,
                      This wiki is about content, which can be inserted in places,
                      and can link to the main HelpWikiHelp.
                      @ul

                      The wiki interpretation code is in a single 280 line module:

                      http://www.bivio.biz/f/bOP/lib/Bivio/Type/WikiText.pm

                      And since this an XP lists, here's the unit test:

                      http://www.bivio.biz/f/bOP/tests/Bivio/Type/t/WikiText.bunit

                      I hope those of you have read this far have found this useful. It's
                      the type of stuff that doesn't appear in code, and shouldn't. It's
                      not the type of stuff I can spend my time on, because I'm a much
                      better coder, and I strongly believe programmers learn the most by
                      trying to figure out abstractions rather than reading about them.
                      However, I thought I'd try this for a change and see what feedback I
                      get. :-)

                      Rob
                    • mah@everybody.org
                      ... Why would people want to publish a weblog using Blogger s services? Whatever the reason that is why blogger.el was written to use XML-RPC. weblogger.el
                      Message 10 of 10 , Mar 19 12:32 PM
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Rob Nagler <nagler@...> writes:

                        > weblogger.el seems like an odd mix of bad ideas, too. Why
                        > does it use XML-RPC, when WebDAV has been around longer and is
                        > supported by more web servers?

                        Why would people want to publish a weblog using Blogger's services?
                        Whatever the reason that is why blogger.el was written to use
                        XML-RPC. weblogger.el built on blogger.el's work to support the
                        MetaWeblog API that many weblog frameworks (e.g. LiveJournal,
                        Wordpress) support.

                        If you would rather write a bunch of static files to the server, then
                        other Emacs-based solutions exist:

                        - BlogMax (http://www.billstclair.com/blogmax/blogmax.el)

                        - Planner.el (http://www.plannerlove.com/) Sacha Chua maintains
                        planner.el and uses it to publish her weblo
                        to integrate her del.icio.us tags with her journal entries that she
                        then publishes on her weblog.

                        And there are others....

                        Mark.

                        --
                        http://hexmode.com/
                        GPG Fingerprint: 7E15 362D A32C DFAB E4D2 B37A 735E F10A 2DFC BFF5

                        In the end, the only events in life worth telling are those in which
                        the imperishable world erupted into this transitory world. --Carl Jung


                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.