July 21, 2017ramble

UX Design and the most brilliant idea for a toaster improvement ever.
I listened to Sam "Waking Up" Harris' podcast where he interviews Scott "Dilbert" Adams about Trump. Adams is relatively pro-Trump, but more to the point, he seems to be more pro-"Persuasion" over unearthing and acting on the facts as objectively as we can.

One of his favorite things to pick on is "analogy" - he thinks it's a terrible, limited way of knowing things, forever an imperfect mistaking of the map for the territory. (Err, to use an analogy, I guess.) I think it's kind of a dick power move, frankly. The Persuasion shtick - and Adams mentions how he was a trained hypnotist - is all about elevating authority and truthiness over trying to empower people to get through to the facts themselves. The Objective Truth is unknowable, so why not give up trying to know it and just Trust Me?

When I was searching my own website trying to find some half-remembered bit about how analogy-based thinking was probably the key to "real" artificial intelligence, I found reference to a book I only barely remember reading but I think may have been mightily influential on me: Hofstadter and Sander's "Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking". Given how often I annoyed my estranged talking companion EB by realizing I tend to be focused on interactions at the surface and he seem obsessed with the supremacy of the essence, the core of what something "really was", that book seems like it had quite an impact on me.

Anyway, getting rid of analogies is nuts; you can barely have a conversation without 'em, and I am deeply suspect of Adams' desire to go without.
All that said, it would be good if the left wasn't so cartoony in its portrayal of Trump.
"Impressionistic sounds affect our subconscious and our state of mind. This is due possibly to the fact that sounds, if present, are continuously entering our mind whether or not we are actively listening. Visual inputs, on the other hand, require the user's attention. If we are distracted from the TV set, we cease to concentrate on the picture and the image leaves our mind. Sound therefore offers the programmer a direct path to the user's mind--bypassing his thought processes and zeroing in on his emotions."
--Chris Crawford, in "De Re Atari" (via Jamie Lendino's "Breakout: How Atari 8-Bit Computers Defined a Generation")
"[Buddha visits Geek Squad]
IT GUY: So all your files are in one huge folder named 'Temporary.'
IT: ...
BUDDHA: [nods peacefully]"