Bertrand Russell’s Inductivist Turkey

A turkey, in an american nurture, decide to shape its vision of the world scientifically well founded (a wissenschaftliche Weltauffassung, according to the Logical Positivism by the  Wiener Kreis).

Bertrand Russell portrait
Bertrand Russell – from Wikipedia

The turkey found that, on his first morning at the turkey farm, he was fed at 9 a.m. Being a good inductivist turkey he did not jump to conclusions. He waited until he collected a large number of observations that he was fed at 9 a.m. and made these observations under a wide range of circumstances, on Wednesdays, on Thursdays, on cold days, on warm days. Each day he added another observation statement to his list. Finally he was satisfied that he had collected a number of observation statements to inductively infer that “I am always fed at 9 a.m.”.

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Japan 2011

I just came back from a holiday in Japan during which the earthquake and successive tsunami happened.

in Ishinomaki, after the earthquake

Everything was ok for me (I was in Tokyo and then I moved to the South) but the devastation was so vast and complete that was difficult to comprehend initially. In some areas everything is gone. It was also unusually cold and snowing.

Seeing the people after the tragedy really made me respect Japanese people, even the day of the earthquake when the Tokyo public traffic system halted, they were so calm and so stoic.

At the end I’m really happy that I decided to stay and continue my trip; Everybody seemed really grateful that for us just being in Tokyo at a time when all of the foreign business people fled and France sent airplanes to fly their citizens home. Remaining there,  drinking the water and eating the fish along with all the citizens that had no choice but to endure was good-feeling. Even the staff at the hotel and restaurants in Kyoto kept asking us about what happened in Tokyo, they just wanted to talk.

And I’m definitely thankful we had an iPod and a netbook to keep in contact with Europe. Thanks Facebook!

I hope to go back to Japan soon.

[Link] A book will be a website with an API

An intriguing article by Hugh McGuire: The line between book and Internet will disappear.

I can’t agree more:

what is a book, but a website that happens to be written on paper and not connected to the web?
[…] the next obvious — but frightening — step: let books live properly within the Internet, along with websites, databases, blogs, Twitter, map systems, and applications.

The value of a degree now

There are so many information, university courses, podcasts, videos, articles available on internet (often for free)  that you can learn any topic online.

Bill Gates was even saying lately that he would send his children to school only until they are 14-15 years old, then they can learn from the web.

I was thinking if there is still value in having earned a degree from a university? If I need to hire a developer, should I consider the fact that he/she is graduated or not?

A hint is coming from an article by the economist Tim Harford: a key concept in modern economics is the “signal”, an idea developed by the Nobel laureate Michael Spence.
A signal is an action that distinguishes one type of person from a would-be mimic because it would be too costly for the mimic to carry out.

Spence suggested that the decision to acquire a degree might be a signal. The degree may be of no practical value but employers may still value it because a degree will distinguish good applicants from bad:  bright, energetic candidates are willing to go to the trouble of acquiring one while dim, lazy candidates are not.

Until here, the theory. On the other side, it could be a negative signal: candidates without a degree could be the ones better able to evaluate the balance between time + money and benefits.

Any thoughts?

Loudspeakers in the office

I was visiting a partner company few days ago.

The company is doing software development and they have relatively modern offices, open space actually.
We were sitting in a meeting room and suddenly I heard from a speaker installed on the wall an announcement like “Mr. X should contact as soon as possible Mr. Y from company Z”.

This was broadcasted in the entire company! I was there an entire day and I heard similar announces 5 or 6 times!

This was making me remember a piece I read in the Peopleware book mentioning that these kind of speakers are extremely dangerous as they break the concentration and the productive flow of work of the persons. When I read it, I thought it was something related to the ’70s and that nowadays (in times of mobile phones and Instant Messaging) it would be absolutely impossible to happen. It seems that I was wrong …