Nothing’s More Practical Theory

“If we want to learn to use a system, part of that is speeding up this process of operant conditioning – learning what’s safe, and what to avoid. Having an adequate mental model of the system seems to be a key part of that, because it lets you figure out this mapping of action to outcome.”

—David R. MacIver, “Learning to use the system.” DRMacIver’s Notebook. July 10, 2020.

Possibly my favorite blog. Reminded me of a saying of my cataloging professor, “Nothing is more practical than theory.” You can’t troubleshoot a problem if you don’t have a mental model for how the system it is part of works. Perhaps your problem is a “feature” when looked at from a different perspective.

Swallowing the Elephant (Part 1)

“Years ago while interning in the rendering group at Pixar, I learned an important lesson: “interesting” things almost always come to light when a software system is given input with significantly different characteristics than it’s seen before. Even for well-written and mature software systems, new types of input almost always expose heretofore unknown shortcomings in the existing implementation.”

—Matt Pharr. Swallowing the Elephant (Part 1) July 8, 2018.

Probably true of any system.