Friday, 26 October 2007

Handling the ignorance

I'm astonished in observing, day after day, how the people is unable of handling their own ignorance. Note, I'm not disturbed by the ignorance itself - people are not walking versions of Wikipedia - but there are many different ways to deal with it, and the first one is admitting to be ignorant in respect to something. There is nothing wrong in that, and it often is a very wise and clever achievement. In my work the ignorance is everything: when there is no ignorance, the information engineer/computer scientist is hardly useful at all. A good engineer differs from a bad one in what he's able to identify the ignorance scope, and to selectively and promptly counter-act to reduce it. Once there is no more ignorance left, or the amount is completely under control and can be handled by somebody less skilled than you, our job has ended.

Some time ago, a consultant hired by the company in which I used to work introduced me and some others to the theory of the five orders of ignorance (P.G. Armour, The five orders of ignorance, CAMC, Oct 2000):
  • 0th: Lack of Ignorance (I know something and can demonstrably prove it)
  • 1st: Lack of Knowledge (I don't know something, but I know that I don't know it)
  • 2nd: Lack of Awareness (I don't know something, and I don't know that I don't know it)
  • 3rd: Lack of process (I don't know something, I don't know that I don't know it, and I don't know how to find out that I don't know it)
  • 4th: Meta Ignorance (I don't know that there are these levels of ignorance)

When we fall in the 0th, there is no problem. The 1th is easy to handle: go to wikipedia, borrow/buy a book, ask an expert. The 2th is tricky: but if you know that in the future it's likely that new ignorance will show up, you can try to plan something to make this new ignorance to show up as soon as possible. This action is not possible if you fall in the 3th, but if you're aware that you're in the 3th, you can still plan something to counteract the ignorance when it will show up. Socrates would have placed in a good position in this scale, being on the level 1 of ignorance. For many of us is normal to fall in the 2nd level of ignorance even in our area of expertise - I think it's not a good signal if you fall in the 3th in your work - it may mean that you are quite a beginner.

Unfortunately, many and many people, from all the professions, fall into the 4th: they don't know absolutely anything, and they are absolutely convinced of their knowledge, that it's not possible that some ignorance will show up later on in the processes, and that there is the possibility that they are not aware of something. I think that no professional working in any skilled job should fall in the 4th: what if a doctor is so convinced of a treatment not to be opened to the slightest doubt? There'd come the troubles... and often it is: people rely on professionals that are supposedly "experts" in their field.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Who's Jakie Chun?

It has been a long time since the last post. Now I don't really have time to write something complex (but 2+3i, haha), I'm about to go to sleep, so, I promise that my next post will be more juicy, but for now I invoke the afroninja martial arts power to protect me!

Monday, 24 September 2007

and for my fans joy...

a serious post!! It has to be short though, I don't want to push that too far.

This is a website with some interesting lectures, whose overall quality is definitely good, as I could see (I've seen just a couple of them, actually).

The main topic is computer science, so either you are interested in computer science, or it's unlikely that you will find anything worth seeing.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Dream psychology and table manners

The title of this post tells you all. Where "all" stands for "this post is rubbish". But now, I have to be coherent with the title of the post and write down the rubbish, otherwise I'll contradict myself. And I have to do that quickly, because then I have to go to argos (don't shop for it, argos it) to return my wonderful Braun 3710, that broke down. For the second time. In 8 months. Now, this is the cheapest razor ever, but it's also the one that shaves me better (which is just an incidental property that was highlighted only after the minimisation of the "cost" function, where cost is not to be intended in broad sense), and I would be veeery pissed if they wouldn't change it for me for free, because it's the one that shaves me the best. Nonetheless, I can't afford a new electric razor every four months.

Whatever. I've discovered that this blog provokes dreams in which people find hidden messages below toilet paper rolls, messages that discover how the image I sometimes give when I express my personal opinion tend to be much harsher than I expect. I felt sorry for that, but on the same time I was delighted to appear in somebody else's dream. Damned egotism!

And, what about table manners? My parents struggled to teach me some of these, and, for their satisfaction, I have to say they managed. I'm not too rigid, but I started thinking that a little bit of control when we eat can help to trace the line between us and the animals, and to show respect for the people you are eating with. That's why I bought a set of four napkins yesterday. Now, the bet is open: how long will we use them? (less-than-a-week is 10:1).

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Welcome, my first guest!

Yeah, since I never told anybody about the blog, of course anybody has never read this blog, apart from me. Till 2 days ago. Then, my friend Zuppa discovered everything, backtracing this place from my profile page. That's a weak point, because I like the profile pages, I have to fill them every time I'm asked to do so! So, I'm probably the only person as now that filled up the profile page in CiteULike. Anyway, I'm glad to have a new reader, and that's why I linked his blog. Which is useless, since the only two readers of this blog are me and him, and, obviously enough, both of us are aware of that blog.

Now, since my mental capabilities are scaled so that now I'm almost 7 years old, I like also the "little thoughts", as we used to call them at elementary schools. But one per post is enough. The today's one is the following.

I'm so sick of the ups and downs of McCann's life! I don't give a shit, really. And yet, I seem to be the only one. I discovered 2 minutes ago that Sir Richard Branson (on the right, a guy that drinks Virgin Cola, has got a Virgin mobile phone, listen to cds bought in a Virgin Store while flying in a Virgin train or a Virgin plane, and owns the Virgin company) will pay for the brand-new top London lawyer that McCann hired to defend themselves. The same that defended Pinochet (on the left, irony) in UK. It's ridiculous. Like all the other things, that I don't want to recall. Like the visit to the pope, the McCanns blog, the McCanns interviews, the McCanns car, the McCanns website, the McCanns ads, and everything. Everything is just the last idea to make money. And, on top of that, is Sir Richard Branson still virgin?

Ok, now I'll go to write some bullshit that I'll pretend to be interesting things to be sent in some useless conference that pretends to be an interesting conference in order to attract people interested in taking holidays and plan how to obtain more money to plan other conferences like that one. This is science and research, folks! And it doesn't matter if the solution is suboptimal, as a friend of mine, recently involved in his first inter-university european project, pointed out a couple of days ago. "My impression is that if we, guys, in our room, managed the entire project, without any expensive meeting around the world every two weeks, any integration, without tons of paperwork that nobody is interested in, we'd finish five times faster". Ah, that's why we are students, because we haven't mastered this art. Not yet. But somebody of us is managing to improve, pointing out that he doesn't like to work as a researcher in a private company. The usually publish less papers. Maybe because they are working. Who knows.

End of the criticism (that anyway is not addressed to all my friends that work in this field, included the one that I welcomed at the beginning of the post, but to many aspects of the big organisation of the field itself - I'll write it down just in case...).

Sunday, 9 September 2007

What colour was the Napoleon's white horse?

It has been more than a month since my last post, in the meanwhile I've been in Cagliari, happily taking my holidays and windsurfing and going to the beach all the time, and in Greece for a conference, which translates more or less in "going to the beach all the time". But I also have some proof that I also did something useful, for example my first "serious" presentation (check out the shot, don't I seem a great performer?)

Well, there would be a lot of things to say about my tales, but now I don't feel like writing a lot, I'm tired and looking "the lord of the ring: the two towers", which inspired the title of this post. Why? Because of "shuttafuck", the Gandalf's horse, of course! Well, somebody could argue that the horse's name is Shadowfax, but shuttafuck sounds much better. And it makes more sense, also. Better than some strange shadow thing that faxes papers around.

Today I realised that it would be good to have a small apple tree instead of the ugly bush we have in our small backyard. In the right season I have to buy one.. I'm already excited :)

This week I also presented in spite of a friend a poster in a conference organised by our University, in London. The best part of it was, of course, that I took part to the social event: a trip on the London Eye, for free (well, I didn't pay for it...).

Well, what to say, other than I'm going to sleep?

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

What do you call a dog with no legs?

It doesn't matter, he won't come anyway.

No way, I have to write a couple of serious posts but I have no time for that. But I have time for silly ones! :)

This guy that reviews old console games is fantastic, yesterday I spent one hour watching him (and today I'm sleepy to death):

I'm a little bit sad because yesterday I was looking at some shots of "Back to the future II" an
d I discovered that Marty Mc Fly has got the Parkinson Disease.

By the way, tomorrow I'll fly to Italy for some holidays, so I'm quite happy :)

Monday, 23 July 2007

Back to work

And there we go! Interesting summer school, I will write a report in the future if I find the time. I've got another post to put on the blog as well, that I wrote at the airport while waiting for my flight, but it's kinda serious and I want to review it a little bit before putting it on. So, as now, just a quick "welcome back" post and the news of the launch of my first conference website, a perfect way to throw the time of a research student in the loo and then flush:

We use to laugh at the research student forced to waste time on things like this... at least I did it quite quickly, and it looks nice to me (I admit it, I'm a minimalist).

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Goodbye, room sweet room

I'm leaving London for a week! Tomorrow I'll go in the Scottish, wet Glasgow for a one-week-long summer school. I hope my dear flatmates won't be able to tear down the house in such a little time :-) So, good bye sweet room (in the image).

There will be lectures for me to attend, and I also have to present my work (I prepared a poster the makes the matusa shit in the underwear, as my friend Zuppa would say). And, on top of that, social events of different nature. I guess if there will be a canoing tour among the flooded streets of the city, it would be interesting.

Somebody could wonder if I'm concerned about the "terrorist threat": some days ago the Glasgow airport was under attack, it seems. The answer is "not at all". And the reason is simple: I've heard that just yesterday the USA decided to double the reward on the Bin Laden's head (now it's $50M). That makes me feel a lot safer and I'm sure that it will solve every problem with the terrorism. Those Americans are the dudes, really. I'm impressed.

Nothing more, now I'll go to cook risotto and possibly a peas omelette. I'll leave you with the link of a wonderful and very nerd blog that makes me laugh out loud (lol): The best is

Monday, 9 July 2007

yeah! blogging again!

It was just a matter of time, I knew that... I'm starting to blog again, with some differences:
  1. less often: I don't have a lot of time right now, thanks to my self-punishment skill..
  2. in English: well, I strongly believe that for many of us writing a blog is done more for personal satisfaction that to have a message going through, or at lest for me it is. I don't have any pretension to be interesting, so I'll write in English to improve my writing skills, and I'll talk of Italian facts because they are interesting to me. No matter how many people will actually read it. And, of course, I won't advertise my blog at all, as usual :P
I'd have liked to call this blog, but unfortunately it looks like there already is a blog with this name. And the subject is a dog (Zeppe, actually). So, having discovered that there is a best man's friend with my same nick, I opted for zeppethefake.

The subject of the first post would have been the Italian politics, the thing that most makes me feel the desire to express myself. Now, the post is becoming too long, so I just want to inform my little readers that Italy is the only country in the world where the government is thinking about a shortage of the retirement age. And why, will the smart reader ask? What a strong argument should the politicians bring to do something so stupid (the people are living longer, it's obvious that we have to work longer...)! Well, it is strong. The argument is "because behind the numbers there are people"! Whoa. I'm impressed. As if the young workers that have to pay for 25 years people that are doing nothing else than scratching their belly because they retired at 55 were not "people". And, believe me or not, when you retire so early it's very likely that you will become depressed in a short time. But Bertinotti and Epifani are too ahead. They are the dudes. Rats.