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Perfection & Feedback Loops or: why worse is better

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Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRFLdWG24Mk

Perfection & Feedback Loops or: why worse is better.
Talk held at ESUG 2016.

Published in: Software

Perfection & Feedback Loops or: why worse is better

  1. 1. Perfection & Feedback Loops or: why worse is better Marcus Denker Talk held at ESUG2016
  2. 2. The slides as used for the talk are a bit useless alone. This is a an annotated version, grey slides are additions (links, notes…) - Video: https://youtu.be/LRFLdWG24Mk - The .key file has all videos embedded All Files: http://marcusdenker.de/talks/16ESUG
  3. 3. VIDEO on Youtube: https://youtu.be/LRFLdWG24Mk
  4. 4. Another Strange Talk
  5. 5. All two years I feel a strange urge to do a strange talk at ESUG… no idea if that is a good idea…
  6. 6. Like ESUG 2014
  7. 7. At ESUG 2014 I give a similar talk, this one is kind of the same topic, but from another point of view. See http://www.slideshare.net/MarcusDenker/2014- esugcathedral
  8. 8. 2 years ago: Cathedrals
  9. 9. Toilets
  10. 10. Today
  11. 11. Perfection
  12. 12. Feedback
  13. 13. Why everything existing sucks
  14. 14. And what to do about it
  15. 15. I have bad news
  16. 16. Perfection does not exist
  17. 17. Knowing his quotes from the fortune unix command, I did not know that Yogi Berra was a baseball player… "I really didn't say everything I said.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogi_Berra
  18. 18. “By the time you’ve arrived at the *perfect* solution, usually the problem has already changed.” — Jessie Shefrin (@jshefrin)
  19. 19. Quote thanks to Jessie Shefrin http://artthinking.com Why is that?
  20. 20. Context
  21. 21. Context changes. Would the perfect Programming Language and Environment for 1985 be seen as perfect in 2016? And it goes even deeper than that. Context is everything. The same solution can be good or bad, depending on the context it is embedded in.
  22. 22. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPPj6viIBmU
  23. 23. One of the first viral videos of the internet. The video should never have been posted, it is often shown as an example of cyber bullying. Lots of things can be learned, but what everyone agrees: “Perfection” is the last thing that comes into mind. So you are seeing this…
  24. 24. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GJOVPjhXMY
  25. 25. … but his context was this. And it is just perfect. Context is everything.
  26. 26. And context changes, constantly
  27. 27. You are not alone in the world. “Everyone, stop, until I created the perfect thing!”
  28. 28. Another problem: You learn while building
  29. 29. When you are ready to finish, it will be obvious to you that what you did is all bad. You could do so much better… easily. Now it is so obvious… But the “old you” would love it. The old you did not yet learn what the “new you” knows. Keep in mind: everyone else but you did not learn what makes you see your work as imperfect.
  30. 30. Everything you can *finish* will "embody" its own critique.
  31. 31. … but to some extend others (and the old you) will see the problems, though. A finished artefact always embodies its own critique. (If you can see flaws in everything other people do, maybe it is not because you are oh so clever?)
  32. 32. Ok, no perfection, but better?
  33. 33. So, ok. There is no perfection. But why can’t things be at least good?
  34. 34. Those who could have done better where busy with building the perfect solution
  35. 35. …now they know how to do it right! Just wait! It will be perfect!
  36. 36. But…
  37. 37. Yes: there is something else at play…
  38. 38. A force of incomprehensible to mankind
  39. 39. Exponential Growth
  40. 40. “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” — Al Bartlett
  41. 41. Watch on Youtube: The Most IMPORTANT Video You'll Ever See 8 parts, 10 min each: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY
  42. 42. … you “know” it in theory
  43. 43. (you might “know” everything in the this talk… theoretically)
  44. 44. By the time that the fifth square is reached on the chessboard, the board contains a total of 31 grains of wheat
  45. 45. How big can it get? There are just 64 fields… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheat_and_chessboard_problem
  46. 46. … round 1,000 times the global production of rice in 2010 (464,000,000 metric tons)
  47. 47. Lily Pond
  48. 48. In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. First day there is one, second two. After long 47 days it is half full. How long does it take to cover the whole lake?
  49. 49. 47 long days to do half.. will take a while for sure…
  50. 50. Compound interest S&P 500, invest $100 monthly. Start: 1983
  51. 51. https://dqydj.com/sp-500-dividend-reinvestment- and-periodic-investment-calculator/ not including taxes, but take fees into account.
  52. 52. Payed: 39700 Today: ?
  53. 53. We payed in not even 40K. How much is it now?
  54. 54. Payed: 39700 Today: 241036 not including taxes, but take fees into account.
  55. 55. Interesting: — It’s not about doubling. ~8% (doubles every 70/8 years) — Most value is created by reinvesting (feeding back) interest earned.
  56. 56. Examples for Feedback
  57. 57. Science
  58. 58. New theories and models makes ideas thinkable that are just not thinkable without.
  59. 59. Open Source
  60. 60. Example: Linux vs. Minix. Minix was clearly better. But there was no feedback loop for Minix. Linux was a *process*, while Minix was a finished artefact.
  61. 61. Processors
  62. 62. The first microprocessor was designed with paper + pen. You could not design a current one without having already a computer. (Going back to paper+pen… why not go back to sticks+stones?) Another Example: LAM builds machines that build processors. These machines *contain* processors themselves.
  63. 63. Agile
  64. 64. Early results lead to fast feedback cycles…
  65. 65. Lean Startups, Minimum Viable Product…
  66. 66. A startup just does not have resources for building the perfect solution to a problem nobody cares about. Very hard to explain to our profession… spawned a whole “self help book” section for Programmers.
  67. 67. Perfection and Feedback
  68. 68. Feedback loops do not care about perfection
  69. 69. The system needs only to be good enough to sustain the next step
  70. 70. If just barely good enough to sustain it, feedback will happen within technically horrible solutions.
  71. 71. “It will be perfect when it is finished” vs. Feedback Loop Now
  72. 72. But just wait till my perfect system is ready.. it will be so much better. Really? Who will need it?
  73. 73. What can we we do?
  74. 74. 1. Goal vs. System
  75. 75. From self help books: do not focus on the goal ("I want to loose weight”), but build instead a system that has your goal as its result eventually. It is *much* easier, the steps are smaller and manageable and even automatic… We should understand our programming goals the same way… http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/goal-setting- is-dead-do-this-instead/ "Do try to tackle goals. Build systems instead"
  76. 76. Understand your Artefact as a Feedback Loop
  77. 77. Every artefact exist in a loop. The most basic one can see when looking at economics: if you can sell a simple, imperfect, early version, you can invest all the result back in your product. Compare that with working in your spare time…
  78. 78. Works especially well for Meta Systems
  79. 79. Especially systems that are used to create other systems benefit from feedback loops. Improve your IDE and you will be more productive. Reflective Systems even more: They are implemented in themselves, so improving the system leads to a natural cycle.
  80. 80. Smalltalk can be feedback loop
  81. 81. Smalltalk is an example for a system where it is very obvious. Yet most Smalltalkers argue to never change anything, to just build on top…
  82. 82. If you set the development and community up correctly
  83. 83. An open source smalltalk ignoring all community contributions, just as an example.
  84. 84. 2. Accept Imperfection
  85. 85. Remember: You just need to drive the next iteration!
  86. 86. Facebook poster. What they mean is that inside a feedback loop, you reach perfection when you reach the point where the next iteration can build on it (aka DONE). http://benbarry.com/project/facebook-propaganda- posters
  87. 87. 3. Small Change Matters
  88. 88. Remember: feeding back creates non-linear growth. Even though you just get <10% interest, most of your account will be interest.
  89. 89. A small change fed back will have huge payout
  90. 90. That idiotic change will pay for 10, 20, 30 years…
  91. 91. A tiny linear change now would be a huge change some iterations ago
  92. 92. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y97rBdSYbkg
  93. 93. Why topple the small? To learn and fine-tune the system!
  94. 94. Peter Principle of the Domino
  95. 95. Peter Principle: “that tiny one? I do the next one, more interesting!” Until you reach the one too large.
  96. 96. Goals vs. Systems: It's a musical thing
  97. 97. Focus on the Process, not the Goal
  98. 98. Do not postpone your life to the future “when you are finished”
  99. 99. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERbvKrH-GC4
  100. 100. The video has a slightly different angle… the one shown in the talk has the middle part cut. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERbvKrH- GC4
  101. 101. Thank You!
  102. 102. Twitter: @marcusdenker http://marcusdenker.de

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