Labyrinths tend to drag me in since the early years of my life.The first ones were just shapes drawn on paper – seemingly an intellectual problem, but well-known mythology stories about them were adding quite a touch of mystery.Then my knowledge was expanded by intriguing mathematics adventure book for youngsters: "Two-horn wizard" by Serguei Bobrow that I read when I was like 11. That was one of these books which guide you into exploring mathematics as a story of some kind of fantasy journey – extraordinarily adequate approach for someone young enough to believe that world can be built out of unusual ideas, while being able to leave practical details for later. It gave meaning to all that paths and turns, as well as a hint of theory behind it. I started to draw them by myself and dream of really seeing one.When computer games showed up, no matter how primitive they were, their virtual world brought more realistic experience. It wasn't possible to just leave the place where you got stuck (unless you were able to do some hacking tricks) nor rise above it, to see the way out in one glance. This made it closer to the actual feeling of going thru the maze.Then finally, last year, I have found the real labyrinths. The first was a green one, build of hornbeam shrubs in Hortulus Gardens close to Polish Baltic See coast and the second one, the biggest snow construction in the world this year, is in Zakopane – a Tatra Mountains spa.
I can totally understand why many people would not find it a fun to enter labyrinth. While obviously not everybody is a fan of a puzzles, the emotional experience of dealing with it can be much more rejecting. The feeling of helplessness is what we intensely avoid in our life and we prefer to always know the straight way out of troubles.But that's not all of us. We are able to think of the labyrinth as the whole structure, while being inside rely on local orientation and decisions that have to be made just here and now. We are prepared to deal with it. Life is just like that. But still we'd rather have a map.That's what the most of people were doing: checking, orienting themselves, solving the problem. Some of them where even playing the game of visiting all marked check-points in specified order, which would not be possible without enough control.
In my case I wanted to try different. The labyrinths were not very complicated, as they were designed to be fun, not nightmare. I had enough knowledge of how to solve them from inside, so I wanted to try the challenge of dealing with them one-on-one. I entered them determined to cross all the paths until I will find myself on the other end. I expected all the necessary steps: checking the dead ends, choosing ways one by one and coming back on my own tracks.The funny thing was that walking fast, taking every turn without hesitation, right or wrong as necessary, not losing any time for debating, I made an impression that I know the way. Some people tried to follow me or tended to change their route to mine. Some looked at me like I was somehow cheating. They didn't know I probably made twice their way (but probably in half the time), yet I didn't feel lost. I felt sure.My favorite event was when I encountered a mother with a son like 10 years old. He was irritated and complaining as boys can be at this age (but probably just frightened) and she was despaired to comfort him. Seeing me, she had the least reasonable question you can ask in the middle of a labyrinth: "Do you know where the exit is?" I couldn't answer that, so I pointed in some possible direction and added "Don't worry, go on, you cannot really be lost here." I hope I was right.
In real life, it's good to have a map, wherever you can. You can always use Omnicontext Analytics to combine local elements of everyday life to have a glance at global view which helps to find the way out. Everywhere else just try all possible turns. One of them is right.
Have you ever wondered where the weather comes from? Sure you did!
Oh, I do not mean that everybody is investing their time and effort into studying meteorology (however some really are), but there are many people that are simply curious about what's around them – and the weather is surely around and all the time. But even if you do not have time or mood for being curious, you may be surprised from time to time with what happens outdoors. It may be something like one really freezing day followed by a warm period, as it has been at my place not long ago or even a snow in July as it happens in the mountains. It means that you have some expectations of how the weather should behave, hidden inside.
Of course, we are being educated one way or the other. Some of us react well on school education and remember what we were taught in our young years, but not so many of us, as it is quite difficult to imagine the weather on a blackboard or in schoolbook words. Some prefer self-education, which unfortunately means more books and diagrams. The majority is probably continually hearing the weather reports, with attention or unwillingly, where someone describes low or high pressure regions, fronts, wet or dry air masses and things alike, convincing us that he knows what he is talking about.It always seemed a bit abstract to me and really too static, drawn with cartographic symbols on the screens, arbitrarily appearing here and there. At least it was giving a clue what to expect and what's important, but it wasn't the weather itself.
The problem, you know, is in its movement and scale. Weather starts in every stone, field or building radiating and absorbing heat, and in the air flowing around it, taking and giving back the warmth and moisture. It never stops, constantly interacting with other and another things, going out of our sight and coming from the places we don't know. It goes high up to the stratosphere and far away to other continents. This is the reason why it's that hard to predict what it will do, as we can feel only the part which have a close contact with us.
Fortunately, what comes to our aid, is that nowadays we have access to the multiple eyes in the sky, watching everything for us and seeing the invisible things around the globe all the time. Forgive me the fun of these grandiloquent words – what I mean is great visualization made by Cameron Beccario (with help of the many, I suppose) that is available at https://earth.nullschool.net webpage. It shows real, current (as well as a bit of future) movement of all the atmosphere and oceans. Looking at it in the Earth scale or just some region, we can really picture it as a river of air flowing constantly around the globe, with its whirls and twirls. It really has no end or a beginning and carries warmth, water and whatever else it takes from one place to another.
Sometimes I just wonder, if (or when) we will be able to picture other things like that. What is also (or even more) interesting and probably also that complicated is the world of people. We are all around the globe and we constantly interact with each other, passing knowledge as well as emotions to each other, which influences us and makes us more or less the global community. And it changes all the time. It gets complicated even on the local scale, in a city or a company, which makes human resources specialists seen quite important these times. It gets really unpredictable on a global scale making all of us more or less worried or intrigued. But the problem is that we can really feel only the part which have a close contact with us.
What would make it possible to picture societies in reality are such eyes that could see all of us and see the important things about us. That's what we are trying to make available at Hypersoft and show in still very local way in Omnicontext Analytics. It's a long way to get global, but maybe sooner or later we will be able to really picture ourselves and see the weather.
My online activities
Today, it is decided, I make a list of my main daily activities on Internet:
Every one of us is able to produce such kind of a this list depending on his self, his experience, life, habits, priorities, etc. We use and we create data every day. Every single day, every one of us is precising his user profile by adding his latest electronic experience. We have been entered this web 2.0 and then this social network period. We are pushed to make connections, to create content, to "like" or to comment.
In a volunteer way or not, you leave traces and connections on internet.
Indeed, with an easy mail, I make connection with someone, famous or not. But let's be definitive, with Internet, I make connections all the time, with people, known or not from me, close or far. Whoever you are, wherever you are, if you
Makes you belonging to a group, an implicit community.
And I am not talking about connections made on purpose (friends, followers, address books …) which make you part of an explicit community.
Remember? Birds of a feather flock together. Finally, it is so easy to understand. And it is so old. What is new is the fact that is so very fast! Why would you not accept it? Be proud of you, be proud of your communities.
All knowledge is ultimately, self-knowledge, Bruce Lee
Now I have the power to know to which communities I belong to, I should feel more relaxed and secure as it helps me to define myself easier. I can complete what I know about me with what I know about my communities. Obviously, having contacts with members of my communities and share information brings me a lot to learn about me and how I can react or manage different situations.
In order to bring to its users easy, fast and meaningful answers, Hypersoft is currently experimenting some Community Discovering algorithms. You may know more soon about existing logics or logics coming from weeks of research.
Our engineering team is currently computing performance scenarios in order to lower necessary time for calculation. Obviously, imagine how complex it is to determine the most realistic list of groups in a 200.000 people set. Yes, indeed, we are talking best combination among thousands and thousands and thousands … combinations, which is a lot to process.
So stay tuned.
I think we all agree that it is easy and fast to decide for 4 nodes; isn't it? Let's try with something a little bit more complicated, 35 people exchanging mails between them.
Teamwork is a tricky thing. While personal effectiveness alone is a difficult matter to understand, coupling people into well working teams had been always giving specialists a real headache.What's the problem? – you may ask. If there's a work to be done then divide it among group members and get to it, instead of debating! Here comes well-known question about how long it will take to dig one water well for a well-motivated group of 10 people with shovels…
We may really be not quite aware of the range of the problem here. Note, that people are working in teams not even for ages but for millennia and efficiency was a real question of their survival in the past. We should already be expert in that, but are we?
Past time cases show how extraordinary, as well as how devastating, can be the result of team cooperation. We all know the story about small, well-motivated division of 300 Spartans that had stopped the Persian Army in spite of being completely overwhelmed by them in numbers. Not exactly winners in a strict sense, but treated as such in history, they were the team that amazes us even now.On the opposite side there was a typical example of armies – huge organizations that should crave for a good teamwork, though they seem to desperately avoid a real one. The structure and ranks system make each function being always managed by one person, by principle of discipline forcing the others to just obey and not to contribute.
However, this one-man responsible approach may not look as such a bad idea if you look at other (in)famous example of military teamwork, which was American "Bay of Pigs Invasion" on Cuba in 1961, where CIA collective decisions had led to an epic failure of the operation. They seemed to be the worst possible choices from available ones, although they came from a team of most professional and outstanding specialists in the field and mostly included US president in their meetings.In this case the most important reason of teamwork failure came from the very fact that the participants were so respectful, that their opinions were judged and favoured not by their concepts real value, but by person's position. Instead of forcing right solutions, participants were busy finding ideas that didn't contradict others. Honesty and expertise were buried deep under overmuch esteem.The only positive effect of the whole operation was that it made the weaknesses of a teamwork so obvious, it triggered intense scientific research of the problem (as well as serious funds availability).
In today's world most of the work that needed common cooperation, like agriculture or industrial production, traditionally managed by simple tasks division among many workers, became automated. The importance of huge armies also decreases, as people, slowly and unevenly but gradually, start to understand that it is much better to talk before attempting to fight.What gets important are creative tasks that require real team cooperation and positive thought exchange. How do we all respond to that? You can see it all around - if there's any problem or decision to make or even just a new thing we encounter at work, we invariably say: Let's make a meeting!(If you are one of these persons, this decision tree can be a good hint.)
Talking seriously, there is quite a lot of practices that succeed in supporting innovation and cooperation in many offices, like rapid development cycles, user-centered design, open office layout or flat hierarchy and autonomy, to name some of them. They work so well, that they are being spread between companies and their divisions in many countries for an amazing effect they provide. But what really lies behind them and allows people to work and cooperate creatively?
Short cycle of development idea, that came up from a start-up culture, in its core bases on taking more chances on a new approach and accepting failure as a way of learning and innovation. Other practices facilitate team's internal communication and avoid organizational obstacles. These are not always easy to implement, as some companies could see trying to transfer them to other cultures as shown in Pamela Hinds research.
Surprising picture on how to make things even better comes from a Google team that research Google working teams (funny, isn't it?), trying to process and analyse all details about them and come out with recipe for perfect group that works like a dream.Watching groups with really good teamwork quality, they found some intriguing things. First they saw that every member of such group was talking equally long on their meetings – that was a simple fact. It was not by design or some group rule or by leader's management. Participants by themselves took care not to neglect anybody. Then it was found that communication concerns a lot of private matters. Their meetings were not very well "organized" – topics changed often and moved easily from team objectives to unrelated themes. In spite of that disorder, results were amazing in terms of innovation and progress.
The values that came as the keys in these groups were: understanding, trust and safety. Closeness that developed from sharing personal matters transferred to interest and care in professional tasks. This provided environment where all opinions as well as comments could be accepted but honestly judged. What is more important, it provided conditions for 'safe failures' that facilitate learning, thought sharing and lead to creativity.
If you think about it, this recipe was always known and sometimes intuitively used. The 'Spartans team' I mentioned earlier, could be a good example of that. Close personal contact, communication and apparent lack of fear of failure were their main advantages over their enemies. But it seems that people always tend to think that there must be an easier way. Is it that hard to trust each other?