Sunday, November 28, 2004

Getting Organized in a (Slightly) Disorganized Way

The same issue of the magazine that finally led to my starting a blog contained an article entitled "Democracy and Filtering", the theme of which is that it is good for a democratic society and good for the individuals themselves if individuals are exposed to content and opinions that they would not have sought on their own. There is a growing tendency, with many cable channels supplementing a few broadcast channels, people getting news from their favorite Internet sites, etc. for people to get information from other people who think like they do. Whatever prejudices that existed before are reinforced to the extreme. Not a lot of compromise can be reached, and not a lot of learning and growth can occur unless one is at least occasionally exposed to an idea that one wasn't looking for.

There are two reasons why I bring this up. One is to explain why I resist the notion that a web log whould be tightly focused on one topic. If you come across something on this site that you weren't looking for, then good for you. I hope you find it valuable. One of my favorite words describes that. Serendipity means finding something valuable that you weren't looking for. I am not going to keep this blog tightly focused on one topic; get used to it!

The other reason is to introduce the idea for a software project that I would like to launch. I want to create something that resembles a personal information manager or project manager that throws in an element of randomness to keep it from getting too predictable and boring. For example, I would like to finish my degree in computer programming, keep myself physically fit, and learn Spanish. Learning Spanish is important to me, but just low enough in priority that I spend my time doing something else. If I knew I was going to study Spanish for a fixed amount of time on a certain day of the week, I would not end up doing it. However, if I had a program with some goals read into it with priorities assigned, and tasks broken down into segments of a few minutes each, I could tell the program in effect that I am tired of what I am doing and would like to do something else for a few minutes and ask it to find me something to do. Knowing that the program was going to find me something that advances my goals, but which isn't predictable would keep my interest. If there are others out there whose brains work the same way mine does when I finish it, then I have a market, and a means of meeting one of my goals - which is to find a way to supplement my income when I retire from my job.

For the record, the magazine is the December 2004 issue of Communications of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), and the author of the article is Cass R. Sunstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago.

1 comment:

  1. It could be cheaper and quicker to be spontaneous.


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