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Re: [XP] energised work - using music

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  • Steven J. Owens
    ... I have much the same experience. The kind of music varies with mood, energy, etc. My musical tastes are fairly omnivorous*, but I find some faster,
    Message 1 of 17 , Apr 11, 2005
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      On Sun, Apr 10, 2005 at 04:04:12PM +0300, Lasse Koskela wrote:
      > On Apr 10, 2005 3:26 PM, Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
      > > On Sunday, April 10, 2005, at 8:19:05 AM, Ron Jeffries wrote:
      > > > There are people -- I'm one of them -- who can't concentrate well
      > > > when there is music. I speculate that I program using the
      > > > music-processing part of my brain.
      > Interestingly, I find having (instrumental or something very close)
      > music in the background does indeed give me some kind of an energized
      > feeling. At least most of the time. And it never seems to distract
      > coding.

      I have much the same experience. The kind of music varies with
      mood, energy, etc. My musical tastes are fairly omnivorous*, but I
      find some faster, higher-intensity stuff better for some work,
      generally when I'm in the groove and I'm just plowing through some
      not-too-thoughtful non-pair coding - Lords of Acid, Violent Femmes,
      etc. Other music serves better for thoughtful times - Ben Harper, for
      example, or classical, some particularly accessible eastern drumming.

      (* Which has lead to some amusing moments when the office empties
      out and I unplug the headphones. Depending on my mood, various nights
      I was listening to Lords of Acid, irish folk songs, Beethoven, Tom
      Waits, Bob Marley, scottish bagpipes (check out a band named Clan
      Destine, it'll change how you think of bagpipes :-), Ben Harper, Rush.
      One evening, the VP of Product Development, who also had a habit of
      working late, came over and asked me how many different kinds of music
      I listen to :-). We left that company and started another, now he's
      my CEO.)

      > Then again, I've often found myself unable to concentrate on reading a
      > book while listening to music.

      I sometimes have that problem when writing. I've been noticing
      it crops up more often when I'm composing some subtle corporatespeak -
      stuff that has to be written in a certain tone for policy documents,
      investor materials, etc, but with a lot of attention to nuance.

      > Without a degree on neurology, I might assume that it has to do with
      > those particular activities focusing on separate parts of my
      > brain.

      There's the fairly well-known study on classical music and
      mathematical skills. The initial study showed temporarily (an hour or
      two) improved math skills in college students who listened to
      classical music before a test.

      (* The theory was that infants would show a longer term benefit.
      Back in the late nineties, I heard that they'd completed the
      longitudinal study of that and the results showed a correlation for
      longer-term better math skills. Whether that's because of the music
      or self-selection or Hawthorne effect on the kids or the parents...).

      > They (coding vs reading) certainly differ in some aspects (coding is
      > very much a creative activity), but there's also a lot of similarity
      > (having to "visualize" the code/text in your head, lacking a better
      > word).

      My personal theory is that certain kinds/aspects of coding are
      intensely spatial/mathematical, and other kinds are more linguistic,
      and maybe some are both. Maybe that's part of what makes programming
      so challenging. I'm not talking about the subject of the programming,
      either, but about the activity itself. I think that object model
      massaging, for example, is more spatial/mathematical (making the term
      "object" even more relevant), for example.

      I'd love to take a crack at studying this, some day.

      Steven J. Owens

      "I'm going to make broad, sweeping generalizations and strong,
      declarative statements, because otherwise I'll be here all night and
      this document will be four times longer and much less fun to read.
      Take it all with a grain of salt." - http://darksleep.com/notablog
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