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Don't be such a scientist!

Posted 15th June 2010 at 04:21 PM by jan.didden
Updated 15th June 2010 at 04:25 PM by jan.didden

I didn't get it. There are gifted design engineers on this forum. They get involved in threads. BUT, in most cases, eventually an 'issue' develops and the engineering guy gets binned or banned or asks to be banned. Why why why? Happened to me a few times. Not that I got banned, thank Ohm, but I got close to leaving because I too got enough of it.
Of what?
Let me explain. Most engineering types like to explain things, to tell others with less experience and knowledge what they are doing wrong and how they can do it better. They inundate you with facts, figures, links to engineering papers etc, and expect that the other guy flows over with gratitude. But, funny enough, it doesn't happen that way. The 'other guy' gets pissed off from being corrected all the time. Hell, he didn't come here for that, he came to have fun, discuss his hobby and his latest creation.

[flashback] At the time Al Gore's An inconvenient Truth came out, the same director (!) also made Too hot not to handle. Both on the issue of Global Warming. Do you remember that other movie? Neither did I. Did you know that Al's flick, which is basically a spiced-up PowerPoint presentation, boxed $50million? What made these movies so different? THNTH was 100% accurate, had all the right figures and simulations. It was also boring. AIT has been shown to have some errors in a few places (although accurate in a general sense). Some of the graphs were 'enhanced' to let the trend stand out better. But it was NOT boring, because it appealed not just to the brain, but to the heart, to the gut, and Al's sex appeal (it's the eye of the beholder, of course).

[regular programming] Randy Olson is a guy who left a tenured position (the pot of gold for any academic person) to go to Hollywood. A scientist turned communicator. His short movie A flock of Dodo's earned him praise because it was a scientific movie that got to the heart, the gut etc. It may seem prepostrous to compare this forum with a succesful movie maker, but we can all learn a lot here, especially we the engineering types.
If you, as an engineer, want to explain why this newby has his cascodes wrong, you are in the same business as Hollywood. You are telling a story that you hope will stick and have an effect. So far, Hollywood is much, much better at it.
Facts are important. Engineering is important; none of our audio marvels would exist without solid engineering. Errors should be avoided. BUT, if the story you tell is boring, you're wasting your time. And as soon as you find out you're wasting your time, you get frustrated, angry, you clash with the members and the mods and you've lost.

Tell the engineering story from the heart, from the guts. Tell your own crooked path to learning, making mistakes, the joy of doing it right. By all means, be sure to get the facts straight. But don't be boring, don't be such a scientist!

Randy Olson, "Don't be such a scientist - Talking substance in an age of Style". Buy it.
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    wintermute's Avatar
    Wonderfully insightful janneman The bit about relating your own learning experiences through mistakes is I think a very good way of doing it. It removes the whole (probably usually just perceived) superiority tone from the post, in that it shows that the more experienced person started out making mistakes (and quite probably still occasionally makes them).

    I think a lot of people are extremely defensive, and find anything "factual", that goes against their perceptions as being threatening. Subtlety in pointing out errors will go a long way to avoiding conflicts. subtlety I think is something that some engineers may have trouble with due to the fact they often like to be precise and to the point. Many people do want to learn, but not be forced to do so. Sometimes the best form of instruction is to ask questions, rather than to give answers

    Tony.
    permalink
    Posted 16th June 2010 at 03:14 AM by wintermute wintermute is offline
  2. Old Comment
    abraxalito's Avatar
    I agree Jan, the scientist's problem is in being too 'objective'. Here what I notice above all is one repeated question - 'But how does it sound?' - people are hungry for other's subjective experiences not just objective facts. Its all about balance. Boring is being unbalanced - being either all objective or equally, all subjective. Engineering isn't about objective facts, its about getting things to work.
    permalink
    Posted 17th June 2010 at 04:50 AM by abraxalito abraxalito is offline
  3. Old Comment
    jan.didden's Avatar
    I don't think the problem is being too objective. Engineering IS about objective facts; if not, you wouldn't get things to work. You can't design an amp subjectively, you can't select parts because you like the color. But of course you can interprete the results subjectively. You can say: I like this amp better than that amp, for whatever reason, be it you like the bass better, or you like the highs better. Nothing wrong with that.

    What the engineer must learn is to recognise that that is a subjective judgement, and accept it. Even if he objectively knows that the preferred amp has more distortion, a more wobbly freq response and horrible clipping.

    What the subjective listener must learn is not to tell everybody (and certainly not the engineer!) that his preferred amp is 'the best amp'. He should accept his own subjectivety.

    Subjectivity is by definition personal, and cannot be transferred to others. Objectivity by definition tries to exclude the personal factor. You can fight till you are dead but this can never be brought together.

    But what I really meant was that the engineer should be more of a story teller. I'm not saying the engineer should change the content of his message. He should NOT compromise on facts, and try to avoid errors the best he can. Just tell the story in a different way. Instead of saying: "Hey, that cascode sucks because your Re is way too large. Google cascodes", he can say: "Hey, great circuit you got there. I used it often, works like a champ. But be carefull with that Re, it looks a bit high. Worth keeping an eye on".

    Don't talk down to people (yeah I know, I've done my share. I learn). If you say "There are P-FETs for SERIOUS designers" (your capitalisation) you have turned half the readers against you. You may not care, you may be factually correct, but you are wasting your time because nobody gets your message.

    jan
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    Posted 17th June 2010 at 08:04 AM by jan.didden jan.didden is online now
    Updated 17th June 2010 at 08:15 AM by jan.didden
  4. Old Comment
    Pano's Avatar
    Nice comments - they make a lot of sense. But the engineers are not in any danger of overrunning Hollywood. It just isn't in their nature. I do know a few engineers who can tell a good story, but they are very few.

    Your tips are certainly in the right direction, but it's going to be hard to get it across to the engineers. Too many engineers come across as pompous know-it-alls. That certainly can't be their intent. Most of these guys are real sweethearts in person.

    Spot on about wanting the subjective view. I often skip to the bottom of a review to find out "how does it sound?" before reading the rest of the article.

    Speaking of which, did you read my upcoming article on gain structure? I tried to keep it light and fun, otherwise it's a pretty dry subject.
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    Posted 18th June 2010 at 02:05 AM by Pano Pano is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Yes, Janneman! Yes!

    But I would like to see it taken much farther. It's not just for this forum. For many engineers, the benefits of better communication and presentation skills, at work, or in public, or just in their personal lives, could be tremendous! And I'm mostly not referring to direct benefits for the engineers. The benefits could be for their projects, their employers, and for the world, if only they could get their message across in a way that could interest and persuade others!

    The too-typical terrible tragedy is when, for something critically important, someone knows all of the answers, or really knows the best course of action, but the people who matter will never know, or won't listen, because that person cannot effectively communicate, or persuade, or crusade. (Let's provide maybe a better motivation: A different example of a terrible tragedy with the same root cause might be when a brilliant, valuable male engineer or scientist sees a gorgeous woman whom he desperately desires, but he can't communicate effectively-enough to even get her interested. Or, even sadder, maybe he doesn't really try. [If you could truly imagine the unnecessary total aggregate heartbreak of our kind, you could not stop yourself from crying and sobbing for us, forever. Or maybe I was the only one with that problem. <grin>])

    Engineers are notoriously bad at communicating effectively, especially when it's communicating about engineering issues to non-engineers, where it often matters most. I have been guilty of that, for most of my life. But maybe realizing it and admitting it to myself was a good first step. I have gotten much better, over the last ten years or so. (Notice that I said "guilty of" and not something like "afflicted with", because it's OUR FAULT and we need to do actual work to correct it in ourselves.)

    But WHAT the ^$@# is our PROBLEM?! I mean, after all, we seem to be so smart in some ways, but so very "stupid" in other ways. And the things about which we appear to be stupid are CLEARLY very important to the success of our precious ideas (Or at least NOW they are clearly important, to me.).

    So what's up with THAT?! I can't speak for anyone else, but, in my case, I think that when I was young I fell in love with the mathematics, physics, and engineering, and devoted almost all of my personal development time and efforts to them, not quite realizing and maybe also not caring enough that I was stunting my growth in other also-very-important areas.

    And, in fact, the social and communication skills areas are often AT LEAST as important as our technical expertise. We have to realize that (gasp!) "people skills" can be MORE important than engineering skills, for an engineer!

    When I was younger and even more stupid than I am now, I would have scoffed at such an idea. But now I know that you definitely "scoff at your own risk", in this case (which would be a bad idea because you would be wrong).

    Alternatively, maybe there's a sort of "conservation of abilities", like a multi-dimensional latex balloon that when stretched farther out as we excel in certain dimensions is necessarily pulled inward allowing only lesser abilities in some other dimensions. (Ahh! Then it wouldn't be "our fault", maybe.) I don't think I believe that. I think most of us just need to wake up(!) and work hard(!) at getting better.

    Geez, there are even JOKES about our anti-social tendencies! "How can you tell an extroverted engineer? He looks at YOUR shoes when he talks to you." How can we know about that joke and not realize that we each need to put some work into improving our social and communication skills? Maybe it's a lot more important than we realize. Maybe we're afraid to try. Maybe we don't see a way forward. Your reasons might be different than mine. My gut feeling tells me we're too wrapped up in our selves to notice or be motivated enough.

    The bottom line might be that if we're so smart, then we should be able to also realize that being extremely good at the engineering is NOT ENOUGH!

    I wanted to Believe that it WAS enough, for a very long time. But that was ridiculously un-scientific, which should have been obvious to me long before it was. I worked SO hard at learning engineering, and spent countless hours and years/decades enjoying thinking about technical things (and yes, even feeling "superior to the masses" in what I thought were important ways). So how could I have been too lazy or too self-centered or too stupid to have not bothered to rigorously try to find out what was "really" important, what would really be needed, to make anything I did actually MATTER to everyone else (or to anyone else!), and then also apply myself to becoming great at THAT?! Well, maybe I'm the only one who was so short-sighted when I was younger.

    Or maybe the following sort of "converse" point of view will motivate some of us to learn to try to communicate better: Would we rather let the loud-mouthed bossy idiots run everything, while we sit back meekly, content that we are somehow superior, and they make messes of everything, for us to try to clean up (or just complain about), while they also get most of the rewards?

    I, for one, vote NO! We need to realize the magnitude of the power that is available to us, through the effective communication of our ideas (and then learn to apply it optimally when and where it is needed).

    Have you ever let the "bean counter" types win, even though they were obviously wrong?

    Have you ever wondered why the smartest people are NOT generally also the most successful, or the wealthiest?

    How many times have you been in a work situation and thought "OMG these idiots are going to blow this and should do xxx not yyy!", but said nothing to the people who mattered? Or maybe you even tried but immediately failed to have an effective impact.

    If you aspire to rise to a higher level in your organization, do you not even realize that it is seen by management as "a good thing" when someone can speak up loudly, and effectively say how things ought to be done? (It is even better if you are correct. But that is not as important. No joke.)

    What is "the answer"? It's YOU! It's us! As Pogo said in the cartoon strip, "We have met the enemy and he is us!", or something like that. Maybe it's a process (but not Twelve Steps, we can hope), something like 1) become aware of and appreciate the extreme importance of social and communication skills, 2) continually build (and try to distribute to other engineers) the awareness and appreciation, 3) Work Hard at developing those skills (You can DO it!), 4) Remember to try to apply the skills, and 5) Enjoy the better world you will help create, and your new life with more money/power/sex/happiness/friends/respect or whatever it is that you want.

    It sounds simple. But it would be a profound alteration for many engineers. I guess I have tried to put a lot toward step 1, here, for any engineers who might read this. But there is one concrete step that I can highly recommend, for any engineer who might be working in a large company or for a government: If you see a class or a seminar offered, about learning to make "better presentations", or something like that, TAKE IT! Your eyes might finally start to open.
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    Posted 19th June 2010 at 08:13 PM by gootee gootee is offline
  6. Old Comment
    jan.didden's Avatar

    Yes Tom yes!

    I wholeheartedly agree with all you said / you perfectly put the finger on the sore spot. Engineers generally think that if they spew forth the facts, the audience will take that in and change their opinion because of it. Hah! No way that will happen, UNLESS you COMMUNICATE with the audience and MAKE them want to change. Get into their heads but also into their hearts, their guts and even the lower organs. One of the reasons engineers have very low esteem for politicians is that politicians in their eyes never have their facts right, or change them to fit their agenda, yet seem to get to the hearts and guts of people (positive or negative). They ARE able to change people´s minds, even with the wrong arguments! Engineers must start to realise that they can make the greatest inventions, but if they cannot communicate them to the rest of the world, their great invention is worth exactly nada, zilch, nothing. In other words, your hard work and research was a total waste....
    permalink
    Posted 20th June 2010 at 02:38 PM by jan.didden jan.didden is online now
  7. Old Comment
    iko's Avatar
    And may I point out that engineers make mistakes too? The concept of science seems almost completely monopolized by some engineers that I've seen here on this forum. Others here also have done and still do science at high levels. Just because someone doesn't have the P.Eng. title next to their name doesn't mean that science is beyond their reach.

    The other point I'd like to make is that the latest examples of engineers asking to leave or simply leaving the forum were in no way based on technical disagreements.

    I'm not sure what to make of your blog entry Jan. Engineers shouldn't mix with the commoners? Engineers should work on their bed-side manners? The commoners should be more appreciative of the contribution engineers make here? Or perhaps the obvious point you clearly make that engineers should communicate at more of a level the audience is at?

    There was a nice thread about a complex project that one of the engineer types started. The thread went on for a while, with little appreciative comments, little acknowledging from the other engineers, so the guy who started the thread started to get publicly frustrated. I mean, such a uber-cool project hack is brought here to the unwashed, and nobody says anything? It might not even have been the presentation. Who knows, but after that thread went sour I've noticed the guy was no longer making very serious contribution to the forum, instead, he became more cynical, abrasive, etc. He's gone now, unfortunately. My point? It might not even have been that he's "such a scientist," but just one of those unexplained things in life. Nice project, interesting, an engineering tour de force, and still, no commoner or engineer cheers the guy on. Maybe he perceived the thread as a failure, and doesn't know how to deal with failure. Anyone who's done real science knows how to deal with failure, because lots of ideas in research fail, before one finds the winners.

    Finally, it's my opinion that it's not necessarily the hard scientist that's having a hard time in this forum, but the guy who doesn't know how to deal with other human beings. I've met many world known researchers in my life that were at either end of the spectrum. Some were the reclusive socially unfit type, and others were the type with seemingly never-ending patience, kindness, and totally down to earth.
    permalink
    Posted 20th June 2010 at 09:06 PM by iko iko is offline
  8. Old Comment
    Pano's Avatar
    Many good points above. This is a great topic.

    I have a number of friends in show biz who teach communication workshops to bankers, lawyers, hospital and airport staff, etc. But not engineers, oddly enough. Someone must.

    It is going to hard to change the nature of the engineer beast. They just aren't born communicators. Not verbal communicators, anyway. A lot of show biz folks are like that too, so they communicate thru other means; dance, music, cinematography, etc. Actors are verbal - and a lot of fun to be around (usually). Maybe there is a non-verbal way for engineers? Pretty pictures?

    So what can we do about it here? Not workshops, surely. I do jump into slow threads to push things along. Sometimes that's all it takes. Many of us could do similar things to help threads along. We have to remember to do so, tho.

    Interesting subject.
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    Posted 20th June 2010 at 10:28 PM by Pano Pano is offline
  9. Old Comment
    jan.didden's Avatar

    Engineers make mistakes too - of course they do, and bad comms is one of them ;-)

    @Ikoflexer:

    Hi Relu, I agree to many of your points. Engineers probably make the same ratio of mistakes as non-engineers - except maybe in engineering, because they are trained in that discipline. But they are not infallible by a long shot.
    I think I miscommunicated my main point, which was that because of a lack (or disinterest) in good communication skills, engineers (or scientists in general) often fail to get the response they need. Yes they need, as any human being needs - we're social animals. That lack of response has, in general, one of two effects. One possible effect is that engineers/scientists tend to withdraw into their own peer cycle and tell each other how great they are, or, they get frustrated and angry. In both cases a lost opportunity for fruitfull exchange to the benefit of all involved.
    I don't know how you got that "the engineers should not mix with commoners"? I think you read something that isn't there, neither in the text nor by intention; I protest the artificial division.
    On the other hand, you hit the nail pretty close with: "Finally, it's my opinion that it's not necessarily the hard scientist that's having a hard time in this forum, but the guy who doesn't know how to deal with other human beings". I wouldn't say 'doesn't know how to deal with other human beings', that seems unnecessarily harsh. It's more a naive expectation that if he just throws out the facts, everybody will be very thankfull and wholehartedly embrace them. THAT is the basic error; you need to woe people, massage them, get into their heart and gut and THEN they will see how generous you are and appreciate what you are doing. That is the case everywhere in life, in any area of human activity. Many engineers think that engineering is an exception. Which, of course, it isn't.

    jan
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    Posted 21st June 2010 at 10:36 AM by jan.didden jan.didden is online now
  10. Old Comment
    jan.didden's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by panomaniac View Comment
    Many good points above. This is a great topic.

    I have a number of friends in show biz who teach communication workshops to bankers, lawyers, hospital and airport staff, etc. But not engineers, oddly enough. Someone must.

    It is going to hard to change the nature of the engineer beast. They just aren't born communicators. Not verbal communicators, anyway. A lot of show biz folks are like that too, so they communicate thru other means; dance, music, cinematography, etc. Actors are verbal - and a lot of fun to be around (usually). Maybe there is a non-verbal way for engineers? Pretty pictures?

    So what can we do about it here? Not workshops, surely. I do jump into slow threads to push things along. Sometimes that's all it takes. Many of us could do similar things to help threads along. We have to remember to do so, tho.

    Interesting subject.
    Michael, I just thought of an other angle into this. On the chance that everybody will fall over me: look at the people "we" use to call snake oil salesmen. The "cable peddlers" some are called. Do they shore up their product literature with hard facts, slews of curves, measurement protocolls? No. So how come they can sell 5,000$ speaker cables? They get into the heart and guts (and, looking at some of their ads, into even lower organs) of people. And their gospel is taken as, yes, gospel. Engineers can learn a lot here.

    jan
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    Posted 21st June 2010 at 10:44 AM by jan.didden jan.didden is online now
  11. Old Comment
    Pano's Avatar
    Yep - you will not go very far in sales just listing the facts.
    You have to hit the emotions. You don't even have to lie, just pitch it in an interesting way.

    Plenty of people respond to a "no B.S." approach - but very few respond to a boring one.
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    Posted 21st June 2010 at 02:47 PM by Pano Pano is offline
  12. Old Comment
    Jan Dupont's Avatar
    Thanks janneman. On the spot
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    Posted 21st June 2010 at 03:19 PM by Jan Dupont Jan Dupont is offline
  13. Old Comment
    iko's Avatar
    Hi Jan, indeed, I probably read too much between the lines of your post and expanded a bit, which I probably shouldn't have. But your main point is right on and in my opinion applies to other branches of science. Let's hope this forum stays as friendly as possible to all.
    permalink
    Posted 22nd June 2010 at 03:59 AM by iko iko is offline
  14. Old Comment
    Let's all be nice to each other?

    Now that [I]is[/I] boring.

    Besides, it's that kind of wooly thinking that got us in this mess in the first place...

    ...and let's face it, we [I]are[/I] in a mess.

    The lunatics have taken over the asylum, because [I]they[/I] didn't care what tactics [I]they[/I] used. They've rubbished the scientists among us with every tool at their disposal. 'It's so [I]passé[/I] to insist on scientific accuracy, and the box is so [I]stylish[/I].'

    Ridicule, deception, snob-appeal, scapegoating, and, failing all else, boring old repetition.

    While all the polite self-effacing scientists said things like 'Er, I think that might not be quite right...' instead of, 'Shut up, dimwit, I'm talking!'

    I've lost count of the number of times I've been told I'm 'unscientific' or that I've got a 'closed mind' or even that I'm a 'troll' for insisting on stuff you can find in a basic physics or electronics textbook.

    So that now it's hard, even for somebody with their head really well screwed on, to separate the truth from the disinformation. Of all the technical hobbies, only in audio is this true. People arguing about [I]cables[/I]. Even in home recording you don't have these problems. You don't have people going, 'Oooh, I don't like that mixing desk, it's got opamps in it, I'd like one with all discretes.' 'Er, could you make that valves?' No, they compare the technical specifications, because they know that other than that, it doesn't make a blind bit of difference.

    I went to university (the first time, in the '60's) to study chemistry, but instead I learned the guitar, dropped out, and then I worked as a residential social worker. I learned all that touchy-feely stuff, and very good it is too, in the right place. I thought I was helping people, changing things. One day though, I woke up to how all the people with the real power to change things were just exploiting me to maintain the status quo.

    So I went back to my first love, science, and did a degree in electronics. Now I mostly interact with computers and other hardware, and what a relief that is.

    You're no good to anybody else until you know how to look after yourself.

    I, for one, won't be giving up disagreeing head-on with people who are plain WRONG anytime soon. Especially when they're trying to pass off their ridiculous ideas on other innocents. No siree. Thanks all the same.

    (Tough) Love

    from the grouchy old hippy

    wakibaki
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    Posted 22nd June 2010 at 09:19 PM by wakibaki wakibaki is offline
  15. Old Comment
    Pano's Avatar
    Its not what you say, mate - it's how you say it. That's life, like it or not.

    "...information can be made memorable only when it is slightly colored by prejudice." Sir Kenneth Clark, speaking of the 11th Encyclopedia Britannica
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    Posted 23rd June 2010 at 03:57 AM by Pano Pano is offline
  16. Old Comment
    Yes, there are a lot of good reasons why engineers (and also people in other professions that tend to have more-intelligent-than-average members) should take a few lessons from Hollywood, and the politicians, and even the Madison Avenue types. But I'm thinking that they all boil down to only two good reasons: 1) for their own benefit, and 2) for the benefit of everyone else.

    Yes, learn to pique, hold, and modulate people's interest at will, even play them like violins, to persuade them, or to make new friends or lovers, or to make a living, or to gain recognition and feel better about yourself, or to have a meaningful or satisfying impact wherever or however you want, or (gasp!) to learn things from people. And yes, learn to present your ideas much more effectively, so that all of your hard work and your intelligence might benefit (or even just be appreciated by) more than just yourself and your life's work (or even just your latest good idea) will not have been wasted in that sense. And yes, speak up loudly to disagree when someone is plain wrong about something that might have a detrimental effect for you or others, or even just because you enjoy debating or there's a chance someone will learn something. And even speak up, effectively(!), about government affairs, or whatever other sordid mess tweaks your neurons to action. (We certainly need THAT, right now.)

    The bottom line might be that it is a potential waste of one's self, and a potential loss for everyone else, if one cannot interact and communicate as effectively as might be needed. And the more intelligent and knowledgable one is, the more profound the potential waste and loss are.

    That last paragraph seems quite profound, eh? Thank you! <grin>

    But also note that a part of the "potential loss for everyone else", in that paragraph above, might be that "everyone else" does not learn from you what they could have learned, and thus they do not become as intelligent as they could have, which would lower the _potential_ potential loss. And that, my friend, could initiate the death spiral of civilization.

    Sadly, that seems to have been well under way, for a long time now. So the intelligent-enough people who remain had better get off their A$$E$ and start educating "everyone else", by communicating as effectively as possible, before there aren't enough of them left!

    (Sorry, I'm just making this stuff up as I go. Never mind. Gotta run. As they say, "...places to see, people to do, things to go." <grin>)

    Cheers,

    Tom
    permalink
    Posted 24th June 2010 at 04:58 AM by gootee gootee is offline
    Updated 24th June 2010 at 05:01 AM by gootee
  17. Old Comment
    jackinnj's Avatar
    Turns out that "An Inconvenient Truth" seems to apply to Al Gore's love life --

    I've had some brilliant grad students work for me (Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Penn, Wellesley, etc.), but none could get an idea across as well as the English Lit major from Duke.
    permalink
    Posted 27th June 2010 at 12:46 PM by jackinnj jackinnj is offline
  18. Old Comment
    Pano's Avatar
    Go Blue Devils!

    Oh wait, I'm from Chapel Hill.....
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    Posted 28th June 2010 at 01:00 PM by Pano Pano is offline
  19. Old Comment
    jan.didden's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wakibaki View Comment
    [snip]The lunatics have taken over the asylum, because they didn't care what tactics they used. They've rubbished the scientists among us with every tool at their disposal. 'It's so passé to insist on scientific accuracy, and the box is so stylish.' [snip]wakibaki
    All true, but why not change things for once? Your choice. You KNOW you won't change people (nor yourself) the way it is going. You have to decide: you want to be absolutely right no matter what, or you want to be heard, to plant new thoughts in people. Not just you, but also 'the other side'. Wouldn't it be great for a 'subjectivist' to hear from an 'engineer': "Hmmm, ok, that's interesting, hadn't thought about that". That's the stuff learning and getting smarter is made of. Worth a try in my book.

    jan
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    Posted 29th June 2010 at 06:53 AM by jan.didden jan.didden is online now
  20. Old Comment
    abraxalito's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by janneman View Comment
    I don't think the problem is being too objective. Engineering IS about objective facts; if not, you wouldn't get things to work.
    You're missing out that sometimes we just don't know how they work (or how they don't work). We accept they do or don't, for some that's enough to get a product out. Just look at those who say 'feedback is bad' and therefore design with no feedback - I'm sure myself that feedback is not in itself bad, but those people have had bad sound with the feedback circuits they've used, so attribute this to feedback (wrongly in my view).

    Quote:
    You can't design an amp subjectively, you can't select parts because you like the color.
    I disagree. One of the amps I did design which probably sold a modest few hundred units commercially I definitely did design both subjectively and objectively. For example, I had a undeniably subjective feeling that balanced topology was superior to unbalanced - just felt better, was more aesthetically pleasing to design. That feeling was totally subjective. It also had MOSFETs for the output transistors - again, based on nothing but my subjective love of power MOSFETs over bipolars.

    That's not to say I didn't measure the resulting amp in an objective manner, I did, but the choice of various aspects of it was unashamedly subjective.

    To offer another counter example - Bob Cordell has said on this forum (and I agree with him) that an amp designer's preferences will be guided by what he fears the most. How is that not subjective? From what I recall, Bob admits to fearing bias starvation in output devices, so I guess he tends towards overbias.


    Quote:
    Subjectivity is by definition personal, and cannot be transferred to others. Objectivity by definition tries to exclude the personal factor. You can fight till you are dead but this can never be brought together.
    But they've never been separate. I think it was Erwin Schroedinger who said as much. Only science assumes they're separate, and that's not the most recent science (like QM and relativity), its science going back to Newton.

    Quote:
    But what I really meant was that the engineer should be more of a story teller.
    On this point, I agree. A couple of years ago I read a book by Steve Denning on the subject, very convincing but then I was primed already to believe it.

    Quote:
    I'm not saying the engineer should change the content of his message.
    Right, just the style needs to be more interactive and conversational. I agree. Talk to people alongside them, not from above. Yep,
    permalink
    Posted 30th June 2010 at 06:54 AM by abraxalito abraxalito is offline
 
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