We share good ideas and conversation here.   Login, Join Us, or Take a Tour!
comment by Devac
Devac  ·  45 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Why I think the tech interview process is broken – Medium

I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those posts of mine that will ruffle some feathers. Let's make one thing clear: I've tried to put aside my own bias, pretty much failed at it but I am leaving it to show where I'm coming from. I'm only interested in the answer. That's it. It's not intended to be personal. Cool? Thanks.

    He came into the program as a multi-dimensional, highly skilled and multi-talented human being. I can't take any credit.

and this thing from IRC on the 20th November 2016:

    22:32 < lilski> I said earlier that I teach computer science students - but I basically teach them how to be human beings

What does it actually mean? Sorry for being peevish about it, but as someone who is focused on hard sciences and getting patronising treatment from most humanities-oriented people around me ever since I can remember, I can't help but resent some of this attitude (don't blame me, blame multiple people who told me verbatim that I must lack a soul to not appreciate some poem or picture :/). I've read a lot of your posts, many of the ones you've posted before I found Hubski and ones posted since then, but I'm at loss about what you actually do in class. What is the thing that your students lack and how does acquiring it make them into 'human beings'? What's about your students that your aim is to make them into those 'multidimensional human beings'? Sorry, but I simply loathe when in my own life the, supposedly, attuned to humanity people just throw me into some easy 'cog-head' category and go forth with their pre-existing assumption. I'm not angry or resentful specifically toward you, lil, but I'm asking because so far you have proven that you will not just dismiss my questions outright with something along the lines of "you will not understand, untermensh".

Aside from that, I agree with Odder. I had only one such interview so far and it was just… baffling. The guy who was interviewing me seemed to be thrown out of the loop when I didn't answer with some cliche line from a tutorial on interviews. Suffices to say that I ended up working in a bookstore as a clerk afterwards.




kleinbl00  ·  45 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Speaking as a twice-optioned screenwriter with an engineering degree, the divide is this:

The mathematically inclined - STEM-heads - know what something is. They function on the quantifiable and defendable. Their sphere of comfort is one in which data and facts and evidence hold the greatest sway.

The romantically inclined - liberal arts majors - know what something should be. They function on the desirable and intuitable. Their sphere of comfort is one in which concensus and persuasion allow us to achieve great things.

An engineer understands that the engines canna take much more of this, captain. The speed of light in a vacuum is an absolute. You can't fit ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag. And they also know that all the hope in the world won't change that.

A poet understands that dammit, Scotty, we're counting on you. Laws are meant to be broken. You can be all that and a bag of chips. And they know that the bumblebee flies anyway.

We cannot function as a society without both aspects. We cannot function as humans without both aspects. HOWEVER

- Human Resources departments are never crewed by engineers.

- Boardrooms have few engineers in them.

- Lawyers are rarely engineers.

The tribe is led by liberal arts twits. They'd lead us all into the wasteland without people who understand double-blind testing but they'd still lead us there because your average stem-head generally believes that people should follow the evidence, not the leader.

But we don't.

It's an unfair stereotype to say that sciences majors are incapable of relating to liberal arts majors. However, it's an accurate stereotype to say that sciences majors do not relate to liberal arts majors as well as liberal arts majors relate to themselves, and it's fair to say that STEM-heads benefit from learning to meet the liberal arts majors where they live, if for no other reason than the parties tend to be less awkward.

That said, it's drearily routine for any liberal arts class inflicted on STEM majors to be seen as "humanizing" but any science class inflicted on liberal arts majors to be "degrading." "When am I ever going to use algebra again?" "How is the ideal gas law at all relevant to my future as a corporate raider?" "zeroth law? Can't you nerds even count to three?"

The STEM guys are far more likely to have a job, though.

lil  ·  44 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's a fine bit of writing kb!!

I think artsies should be blasted with science through and through. The thing in itself, the earth, the cosmos are all mind-numbingly beautiful and poetic. And language, what a beautiful scientific invention that is. The separation of art and science is a FALSE DUALISM. And as we've discussed here before OftenBen Reject the binary, all dualisms are delusional.

rjw  ·  44 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Exactly! A knowledge of the liberal arts is also essential to understanding how people relate to STEM. I would say that it is essential, unless you want to become someone stuck in a back office receiving requirements by email and passing back code through a small window. Fortunately the number of people I've actually met who actually conform to this stereotype is very low! But it doesn't hurt to learn a little bit more, and a lot of pain has been caused by developing technology with no regard to how society functions.

A more general view: the development of technology affects the development of culture and vice versa. I think that if you only understand one side of this picture, the future is guaranteed to catch you by surprise.

Devac  ·  43 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I gave more thought to your post, hence a delayed response. Thank you. I don't think that I'm even close to start developing any semblance of balancing both sides myself, but damn it I'll try. Seems like it's worth the effort.

Thing is, despite being rather pragmatic and literal-minded I do have many idealised assumptions and purposes. Rules can't be broken, but there's a possibility to exploit and optimise in ways that we don't know as of yet. Models are simplified by necessity, but I would not feel like myself if I didn't at least try to add another factor into it to get it all sorts of complex and wacky. And while I will likely never overcome my problems with disciplines like poetry I do know many other things worth of my appreciation. A well-made proof is likely causing me the same types of thoughts than a fine piece of art does to many others. Just appreciating one makes you look like a complete dork unless you are channelling Brian Cox.

I'm not going to be a leader, barring maybe student's physics club and even that it's mainly because I'm actually giving enough of a fuck about its mission. I already started to develop distaste to HR and I am not going to hide that I will likely always be more lenient toward like-minded people and much harsher toward liberal-arts majors and similar people. Will I overcome this bias? I don't know. I hope so, but it doesn't look promising.

Again, I want to thank you for this post. On top of everything, I have to say that references to Star Trek TOS speak more than a thousand pictures. ;)

    meet the liberal arts majors where they live, if for no other reason than the parties tend to be less awkward

That's so far the only thing with which I can't seem to agree. No doubt we have different experiences and I'm not really a party-goer on top of it, but so far my sample shows the exact opposite. Even the only two liberal arts people that I know well prefer to party with the techs. :D

kleinbl00  ·  43 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You're color blind, right? Doesn't mean you can't appreciate beauty. It means that you're more likely to appreciate things for texture and tonality than for vividness. The question is - do you try to get others to see the beauty that you do?

You're a passionate person. You feel things deeply. Unfortunately, vehemence is not compelling, nor is it endearing (take it from me). In order to get others to see the beauty that you do, you must convince them - which means getting people who see color to appreciate the virtues of grayscale.

I link to this a lot. The long and the short of it is that internet debate is pretty much about who has the facts (logos rhetoric). Persuasive speech, on the other hand, is about logos, pathos (emotion) and ethos (reputation). STEM insists on logos. Liberal arts actually deprecates logos in favor of pathos and ethos because the liberal arts are those that do not appeal to fact.

You've probably met lots of interesting people in your life. You will continue to do so. Some of them will be about facts but lots of them won't. As a passionate person with a lot of knowledge, it's to the benefit of OTHERS that you learn to communicate what you know to those that don't more so to those who don't respect facts the way you do.

lil is literally trying to teach people to do that.

Here's the thing. Society is unavoidable, and society is not empirical. The value of facts is absolute in the physical world, but in the human sphere they're just a factor. Victory belongs to whomever can get their "facts" to dominate, whether or not they're accurate, valid or relevant. It's not enough to possess them. You have to give them to others and have them take them gladly.

I'm disappointed in the liberal arts majors of Poland.

Devac  ·  43 days ago  ·  link  ·  
This comment has been deleted.
lil  ·  45 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those posts of mine that will ruffle some feathers.
Not at all. Thank you for writing. In fact, your letter made me immediately realize how I appear to some people.

    He came into the program as a multi-dimensional, highly skilled and multi-talented human being. I can't take any credit. and this thing from IRC on the 20th November 2016:

    22:32 < lilski> I said earlier that I teach computer science students - but I basically teach them how to be human beings

First of all, what does it mean to be a human being, let alone teach someone to be one? I will make more of an effort to describe what I do because my flippant shorthand sounds stupid and arrogant.

When the usual response from people is a sad nod, and "Good idea," I am only reinforcing negative stereotypes -- and like all stereotypes, they can potentially lead to prejudice.

    Sorry for being peevish about it, but as someone who is focused on hard sciences and getting patronising treatment from most humanities-oriented people around me ever since I can remember, I can't help but resent some of this attitude (don't blame me, blame multiple people who told me verbatim that I must lack a soul to not appreciate some poem or picture :/).
and not appreciating some arty thing doesn't make you any less human.

    but I'm at loss about what you actually do in class.
I focus on interpersonal communication skills, particularly listening to others; listening to what they say and don't say; examining our own reactions to stress, conflict, and confusion; understanding that what we see and perceive and interpret might be different from others who are with us; examining how, like it or not, our emotions are the engines of our lives and often objectivity is subjective. In addition, public speaking classes are all about connecting with others not talking at them.

    What is the thing that your students lack
My current students don't particularly lack anything more than any other group. We all struggle with communication and connection.

    and how does acquiring it make them into 'human beings'?
I regret ever using that phrase, but I will say this: the students often tell me that the class asked them to engage in new thoughtful self-reflection, that they have changed the way they relate to others, and that they feel more in control of their lives. That's not being a human being, but it's something.

    What's about your students that your aim is to make them into those 'multidimensional human beings'?
I want them to be happier and more effective. I want their teamwork to be more successful. I want them to understand their unintended contribution to their own problems. I'm grateful to have a chance to work in an area that seems meaningful to me and seems helpful. I hate coming across as arrogant. I imagine I will share this thread with my students. That will be an interesting conversation.

    Sorry, but I simply loathe when in my own life the, supposedly, attuned to humanity people just throw me into some easy 'cog-head' category and go forth with their pre-existing assumption.
Have you challenged their preconceived notions? What did they say? What evidence did they have?

    I'm not angry or resentful specifically toward you, lil, but I'm asking because so far you have proven that you will not just dismiss my questions outright with something along the lines of "you will not understand, untermensh".
I hope I have responded non-dismissively.
Devac  ·  44 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you. It was indeed what I was looking for as far as explanation gets. Sorry for my post being somewhat rude and projective, but I hope that you can understand where it was coming from. There's a Polish word that I can't really translate literally, Pięknoduch, a portmanteau of "Piękno" meaning beauty and "Duch" meaning spirit or soul (and also ghost… talk about efficient language :D) that's actually a derogatory term that would roughly mean "pretentious artsy-fartsy oversensitive ninnies" that almost too perfectly describes most people with whom I had displeasure to interact as far as the topic of discussion is concerned. It unfortunately also includes most of my language teachers until I got to uni. One was actually using very similar phrases to the ones that I originally quoted without ever feeling like she should explain wtf she even means. Perhaps if I had a teacher more like you I would never develop my "oh, fuck. why does it have to be poetry" knee-jerk as well?

To get back to your questions.

    Have you challenged their preconceived notions? What did they say?

Hardly. When you want to see something in others, it will be there. If I showed that I know 'their lingo' I was deemed a poser. If I talked in a formal manner with proper meaning behind logical ordering, I was machine-like. If I tried to engage, I was 'trying too hard'. As a great AI once said, "the only winning move is not to play".

    What evidence did they have?

Well, I am not the most expressive person. I struggle with words even in my native language and unfortunately, it fits the stereotype. I had people going along that impression. Why not fight it? See above.

Either way, I'm sorry about this whole exchange.

lil  ·  44 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Either way, I'm sorry about this whole exchange.
Don't be. I appreciate the exchange and very glad you brought up the points you did. If my unnecessary thoughtless generalizations cause harm, they must be questioned.

The author of the Medium post above had some serious questions for me as well. He cared enough about his education to take the time to write me a long email full of challenges. He said he had done that for his teachers in the past and never got a satisfactory response. Like yours, his challenges were thoughtful. For example, he thought the material in my course book were opinions because, while I have a bibliography in the back, I don't provide detailed evidence of the research and sources. I want to focus on activities in the class. I rewrite my course every year and will definitely put in sources throughout the book. Great idea.

I long for students who care enough to challenge me and it takes confidence, courage, and commitment to do that.

kantos  ·  44 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Either way, I'm sorry about this whole exchange.

    Don't be. I appreciate the exchange and very glad you brought up the points you did. If my unnecessary thoughtless generalizations cause harm, they must be questioned

If I could badge a thread of comments as one, then I would, Devac (potential feature???). Going to throw an appreciation at both of you for being so open and respective, in kind. Thank you.

rjw  ·  44 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Agreed. A good interaction can be much more valuable than a single expertly-delivered take. Thank you both.

lil  ·  44 days ago  ·  link  ·  

awww, let's throw out some badges anyway!