Reading Week – Messy – Tim Hartford

Staged fun is rarely fun. Our brains and society have a preference for order that adds little value and causes us to reject our spatial memory which is one of our most powerful assets. We are typically more creative when under mild stress though perhaps this is more about being ‘alert’ rather than ‘bored’.

I desperately need a set of Eno’s oblique strategy cards as I suspect they could be very useful for debugging problems.

Dissent is powerful our desire for order and conformity is hard to break. Faced with 2+2= the desire to conform will make it non-trivial to say ‘4’ if the five people before you said ‘5’, though a single ally can make this possible.

I h e a solid reference for a paper on diversity that I’ve been seeking for some time. Add a stranger to a group of frat’ boys and they will have less fun and be less sure of themselves at solving a puzzle but will have a higher success rate. (Phillips, Liljenquist and Neale; Is the pain worth the gain.) Once I’ve read it I can seek out some counter arguments.

The small size of Bermuda makes me wonder if it should be able to be the ultimate melting pot. It is too small for people to fully self sort. Though certainly on a par with a large university campus.

Team harmony is overrated, it makes us slow and dim witted. What matters is goal harmony but I’m not sure this would be clear in most contexts.

Making people have ownership of their own space can increase productivity by up to 30% and infantilising can reduce by up to 15%. Each to their own desk / office is a very good idea. Cubicles were created as a consequence of the US tax code. The original designer intended their angles to be a minimum of 120 degrees.

Finally automation will routinely tidy up ordinary messes but occasionally wreak an extraordinary mess and it would likely be better for the computer to watch the human than the other way around. After all, ‘to err is human but to really foul things up takes a computer.’

I must find Marcel Proust’s list of questions. ‘What is your most treasured possession?’ Would surely lead to more interesting conversations that, ‘So, what do you do?’

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