Notes from BarCampRdu,Part 1: General, Session 1

Yesterday I attended BarCampRDU at the Red Hat campus in Raleigh. Fred Stutzman did a wonderful job of organizing, so everything went smoothly. I am going to take some time over the next few days to look over my notes and blog some of the ideas that I thought of during the discussions. Overall I had a great time and look forward to participating in many more unconferences in the future. It was an excellent way for the local tech community to get together. Now that I understand how unconferences work, I would like to take a more active role in either planning or in leading a talk next time round.

You can see Flickr photos tagged BarCampRDU here and blog posts tagged with the technorati tag here.

The first talk I went to was “Refactoring Your Wetware”:

Andy Hunt of The Pragmatic Programmers likes to talk about how your brain works. Pole-bridging, pragmatic learning, the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition, and even a little of Getting Things Done are all fair game.

While this session turned out to be more of a talk than a discussion, it was still very interesting. Andy began by setting forth the following ideas:

Using more of your brain’s horsepower!
• (experts rely on intuition) context dependent > context free (novices follow rules)
• Mastering knowledge doesn’t increase your professional effectiveness
• Problem for certification programs
• So? ->> tweak the brain
• Brain compared with computer model.
• Fast non-linear part, slow linear part but only one can access memory at any time
• 10% analytical, verbal — Geeky
• 90% irrational non-verbal – Artsy

He then went over a number of ways to get take advantage of that 90%. I feel it was a good start to the day as it got people thinking about how to look at things from different angles. Below are the notes I took. They are relatively raw. I think they are all in my own words, but a few phrases may accidently match Andy’s slides. If you get a chance to see this talk of his I would suggest going.

Thus design matters. (iPod example)
• Check out the video of Microsoft iPod – loses the design and good sense
• Drawing on the right side of the brain
• Trace an upside down image, but don’t label in your mind focus on the lines
• Default to symbol instead of reflecting on the deeper meaning

How to engage r-mode processing
• Focus on sensory experience
• Use building blocks like legos during design sessions
• Emphasize cross sensory feedback
• Lozanov Séance — yoga inspired breathing and repetition in dark room with baroque music and foreign words being repeated
• “Write drunk, but revise sober”
• Start with multi-sensory learning and then follow with traditional learning
• Memory stores every input
• Right mode actually scans these memories, but it is hard to transfer the harvested memory to the left mode because it is like trying to verbalize a dream

Image streaming
1. Ask yourself a question / pose a problem
2. Close your eyes for 10 minutes
3. For each image that crosses your mind
1. Describe it outloud
2. Imaging it using all five senses
3. Source of image not as important as interpreting it – rub eyes, look at bright light first

• Write three mages a day in longhand, uncensored, never skip a day
• Typing is very L-mode being at the keyboard is a bad place for creativity
• BOOK – A Whack on the Side of the Head.
• Seeing something from a completely different point of view causes the right mode search algorithm to kick in differently.
• Avoid mental locks – Made me think of a book I read called The Eureka Effect that discussed very similar ideas.

Magic of the “oracle”
• is to focus pattern matching by broadening scope
• This made me think of Socrates (because he was motivated by the Oracle at Delphi). Maybe he was using his right brain?

Need to keep track of great ideas or your brain gets lazy and stops worrying about it.
• Capturing good ideas. Andy uses a space pen w/ notepad, index cards
• PDA with a wiki or sticky notes, voice recorder on pda,
• My new idea talk to Bluetooth earpiece while walking home and have the call recorded to my blog.
• Transcribe and integrate I a hyperlinked space (wikispace)

Context switching is bad and ruins productivity
• Multitasking and interruption like checking email (-10iq) worse than smoking a joint (-4iq)
• Second monitor yields productivity gains of 20%-30%

That was the end of my notes. I will post more notes and ideas later over the next few days.

Technorati tag: barcamprdu