Sunday, January 30, 2011

Positive agendas

One reason I wrote so much about CALL is that it is a positive agenda. A positive agenda fulfills the following 4 requirements:

CALL development has a clear goal, namely, the production of better language-learning software.

In contrast, most busywork people do to earn money doesn't have any goal.

CALL has justification for why the goal is worth reaching. People have to learn languages anyway, one way or another, at least in Europe.

For example training, competing and winning is not a positive agenda, unless people plan to use the trained skills for some further goal. There must be a justification for why the training is worth the effort.

CALL has a tradition outlined by prior art, current popular software and to lesser extent books and journals. Tradition tells what works and why, what doesn't work, and what has been tried in the past with variable success. Finding a tradition to attach to is a big boost in any effort.

CALL has a working approach which tells you how you can put in hours to make progress towards the goal. You develop better CALL by writing software and collecting and filtering data sets. This approach is something I can perform.

For example in Roissy-style game, there is a clear goal (pickup), justification (pleasure or happy relationship), traditon (Mystery method) and approach, but the approach is not something I can yet apply. Therefore game is not a positive agenda for me.

Few people around me have any positive agendas in any area of life, and when I spot one it is fascinating to watch. Last summer, when go circles in Tampere organized the European Go Congress, it was a positive agenda. The goal was to arrange the tournament. The justification was to enable European go players play together and find out the European championship. The tradition of yearly go congresses had been around since 1957. The approach was to organize it the same way as past congresses and local events. But usually go circles don't have any positive agenda, since justification is lacking.

When Esa and Kari talked about Haskell and category theory, it sounded like they had a positive agenda, although I didn't have the background to understand what they were talking about.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My sister's child was baptized

11.11.2010 my sister Sanna and her spouse Panu had a child. Yesterday he was baptized and given the name Lauri.

Sanna and Panu are as swipple couple as it gets. Panu runs an environmental consulting firm. Sanna studies art at university, and has had numerous galleries. (My brother has had galleries displaying fractal art, and he is one of the founders at a struggling startup. I'm the only grey and boring normo with an nine-to-five job.) All food was vegetarian, there was a token black couple from Mozambique present, and the priest was female. I didn't ask why they were discriminating against LGBT minorities by not inviting them.

During the ceremony, I learned new things about baptism. Godparents (kummit) are supposed to take responsibility of the religious upbriging of the child. Also, parents are supposed to tell about the baptism for the child when he grows up. One reason I dislike atheism is that atheists seem to be bashing a straw man, as people are very good at simply ignoring religion.

Priest's talk was solidly conservative, emphasizing God's desire that the parent stay together and take good care of the child, aided by godparents, even when the child is not always cute and adorable. Church is one of the few institutions that still dares to say "single parenthood is wrong." Feminine tones like God's loving embrace was featured many times in the sermon, so it was clearly left-conservative.

Only Sanna belongs to Church, and she said that they hesitated for a long time before deciding to baptize instead of just giving a name. The priest emphasized that baptism creates a lasting tie between the child and God, but the parents will likely talk against any attempts to introduce him faith into God.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Game of Talking in science

Isegora writes about a group performance study. The study investigated if group ability is "sum of its parts" or "more than sum of its parts". They both measured the individual IQs of the group members, and also looked at the interaction in the group. Group dynamics overwhelmed individual ability.

One result was that the whole group dynamic suffers if one asshole insists on blabbing and blabbing and blabbing in order to win the Game of Talking by big margin:

...neither the average intelligence of the group members nor the person with the greatest intelligence strongly predicted how well the group did.

Other tenets of group success also seemed to fall by the wayside: A group’s motivation, satisfaction, and unity were unimportant. Instead, the researchers found that when a group had a high level of collective intelligence, the members tended to score well on a test that measured how good they were at reading other people’s emotions. They also found that groups with overbearing leaders who were reluctant to cede the floor and let the others talk did worse than those in which participation was better distributed and people took turns speaking. And they also found that the proportion of women in the group was a predictor of collective intelligence — a factor they believe was likely influenced by women’s generally superior social sensitivity.

Hat tip: Aretae