Sunday, June 15, 2008

Killer (Ninja) Instincts

As quite a few people writing about programming have noted, there is a strong vein of creativity in programming. The feeling when that flash hits your brain is one of the coolest things in the world.

I've always said that programming is weaving with logic - building from thought itself. And so when those insights arrive, its unreal.

After a number of years programming, you start to have a sense of "rightness" about the direction your are taking with code, as this blog post notes. Sometimes it's a vague feeling, and sometimes it's a solid idea. If you get one of these feeling, GO WITH IT!

Every time I've failed to listen to this little voice in my head, I've seen the programming so sour. Typically, at the current stage of my career, it's been architectural issues, but they can be at any portion of the development process.



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3 comments:

Brian Tkatch said...

It's not actually sudden flash, it's intuition, which is a form of pattern recognition. It's no different than seeing something like a tree growing and realizing the answer to your problem.

Logic is deductive, meaning everything is already there, but it needs to be broken into its individual parts. Intuition is inductive, meaning it is not all there, but you need to add to it based on pattern recognition. To someone who usually uses deduction, induction is seen as a flash from nowhere.

On the MBTI, that is the difference between the INTP and INTJ. INTPs are dominant Ts, which iNtution as a secondary, just there to provide input when required. INTJs are dominant Ns, using Logic only as required. To them, intuition is not a flash, but something as comfortable as you using logic.

Dixie Software Ninja said...

Brian,

It's definitely intuition, but I'm thinking that for many, it is a flash, as evinced by the "AHA! moment" it usually gets called. The background processing may be there all the time, but the point when the insight pushes into the forefront is usually (apparently) sudden.

On the subject of the MBTI, I'm not a big fan, personally. I see the broader categories as valid, but no more so than any of the other personality test groupings - even the medieval Four Humors. I'm not sure we have enough evidence to cleanly categorize internal states as neatly as the MTBI claims to so.

Brian Tkatch said...

The Aha! moment is seen more by non-dominant Ns. Personally, intuition is my primary function, so i am always using it. It's a not a flash to me, it's just the way i see things.

I find the MBTI interesting because...

I got to it from Keirsey's four types. The four types, including the four humors, have been around for over two millennium, with each author recording one aspect of the same types. Keirsey did a fantastic job with that. The mere fact that the theory has been reinvented so many times, over so long a period, and still interests people tells me that there is probably something to it.

From there, Keirsey got me to the MBTI with his ingenious mapping of the two typologies.

The MBTI has worth to me, not because of its history as it is only a century or so in the making (and in the psychological world this can still be a fad) but because Jung attempted to figure out how the brain worked and found two attitude types and four functions. He did not necessarily mean to turn this into a typology, Briggs did (she dropped her own arbitrary groupings in favor of the functional types).

Jung's work definitely mentioned the eight function types (with two sub types), but it was Briggs, and later her daughter Isabelle (Meyers) that did the research behind it. Ultimately, the types were not made to group people, but to see what people used each day. That led to the discovery of preferences, and ultimately the MBTI.

With the mapping of the Keirseyan types and the MBTI Types, there is a system with two thousand years of history and a semi-scientific breakdown (inasmuch as psychology is considered a science). That gives it much value to me, significantly more than any other typology that i know of.