Sunday, June 13, 2010

Aversion to change is normal

Writing answer to a recent mail list discussion it occurred to me that aversion to change is the way to preserve energy. When there is no motion, then there is no need for more energy, so it is intrinsic property of any life form, which explains why it is so omnipresent, and by definition normal (as in usual, or average)  behavior.

The only problem with aversion to change is that it sometimes stands in the way to achieve better efficiency and preserve energy. Someone with better overview of particular process finds procedure that increases efficiency (preserve energy), but we have to put some effort (energy) to learn it. With aversion to change in the action we will resist learning and keep lower efficiency. Good is that this prevents easy change in the opposite direction, to lower efficiency, as at least some of affected will analyze procedure and reject bad one. Bad is that we will use more energy every moment of our life.

Nobody will tell you that he is not for a progress, but everyone will rationalize why the change is not good and should be postponed, or completely avoided. I would put all individual reasons in two categories:
  • nitpicking on side effects of a new method, that will be presented as key obstacles that have to be removed before method can be applied, and 
  • incompatibility with workarounds for deficiencies in the old one, which will be presented as unacceptable regressions in efficiency, and the reason to reject idea altogether until that is solved.

    To be honest, I've seen better method making people slower, but that was either learning phase, attempt to subvert "new thing" in hope it will go away, or combination of both. Also, I've seen bad ideas presented as revolutionary improvements, which was sometimes undetectable without being insider, or simply trying new thing for some time and see what it brings.

    Life is like a road, when you see obstacle try to avoid it, but also check another route, and compare results. Use what is better. It is that simple and it is no different with anything else.

    Saturday, June 12, 2010

    Wiki: change postponed

    or why we don't do that, it is a FOSS world?

    Well, we (contributors) are stretched all over the place, and there is still a lot to do, but keeping wiki hidden on side will not bring more contributors either. New date according to Rupert's post on the mail list is July 12th.

    Wiki editing is not a big fun in the beginning, there is more then a few things to learn about to be able to play with, but on the other hand if you don't need fancy formating, then you can start almost instantly. Learn how to start article, then few formatting tips, like mark titles,  and you are good to go.

    Title in the MediaWiki is title quoted with equal signs, like == Title ==, add more = and title is smaller.

    You also have to know wiki editor requires to write from the beginning of the line. Any (white) space on the begin will convert your writing in a preformatted text  written in a fixed font, so there is no way to indent first line of paragraph without dirty tricks, not even for a single space.

    Also, learn to use preview button, it will make you look good in the eyes of the wiki maintenance people that hate recent changes page filled with changes that are not actually changes, but someone that uses save button all the time.

    There is of course more, but to correct typo, grammar or spelling, you have to know even lesser. Correcting typos is one of the ways to help, and if you ask me, just as important as being able to create fancy layout, because there is no layout that will make an article with typos look good.