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Patterns of Human Interactions

I was just realizing that there are design patterns in human interaction.

One area these pattetrns can be observed is in discussion groups.

For example, the troll is a pattern category that has several formulas people apply to their behavior in order to provoke reactions or get attention.

Another is the person who pronounces that something quite difficult (C++, VLSI design and simulation, assembly programming on an embedded system) is terribly easy, hoping that people hearing this will this that he must be very smart then and perhaps hire him, give him money, or recommend him as an expert. Of course we know that people who are genuinely good at these things recognize that they are indeed very hard and only someone who does not fully understand their difficulty would say they are easy.

What other patterns have you observed?

Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

> C++, VLSI design and simulation, assembly
> programming on an embedded system

Assembly programming IS dead-easy for processors such as Zilog Z80. :)

Check out the work of Richard Bandler - he's good at identifying patterns & stuff, and also at teaching them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

And one of my all-time favorites:


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

In arguments/debates:

  - The use of anecdote to prove/refute a point?
  - Or, my personal favorite, the use of edge cases, no matter how ridiculous, to dispute rule-of-thumb generalizations...

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

An anecdote may not prove a point, but it can often refute it.

And the problem with rules of thumb is the "rule" part. We should call them "guidelines of thumb" [g]. Next time I have a cube I'm putting up a sign: "A silly consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." with a footnote: "Understand why the rule is the rule"


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The smart ass remark, this is a pattern I see repeatedly, that its also me that generates it doesn't invalidate the pattern.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

I'm trying to decide which type of flamer I am from the comprehensive listing. ;)

Spam and crapflooding are an issue when a system is large enough to attract this.  Crapflooders generally write software to flood the system with crap.  This all depends on how the moderation system works, of course.

Volunteer moderators?

Flamebait Sr.
Tuesday, October 21, 2003


"A silly consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." with a footnote: "Understand why the rule is the rule"

This sums up a huge part of my outlook on life. "Why are we still using an 8 character system to save our files (Lxx22o3a.doc)...Hello we got rid of Win3.11 years ago."

I like it also because I had to read it twice to fully understand it.

This is going up on my desk. (right beside "There are 10 kinds of people in life, those that understand binary, and those that don't")

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The "what's good for describing software engineering is good for describing people's behavior" pattern.

Johnny Bravo
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

hmmm someone using _my_ favourite quote...

But I'll let you off and offer my own personal dictum

"We are not here to be nice to people"

Which the majority of the universe misunderstands, and which is probably why I say it.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

It's okay, I promise I will quote the source.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

As far as the people who declare that such and such is easy go, maybe they're telling the truth sometimes. I realise most people are probably talking crap, but some of them could be telling the truth.

I think of it this way: Most people couldn't run a marathon in 3 hours. Yet to a world class marathon runner, that's a ridiculously slow time. To a top class male sprinter, 11 seconds for 100 meters is simple, even though most people couldn't do it. For Gary Kasparov, beating someone with an ELO rating of 2400 is pretty easy, even though that person would beat most of us. And so on ... in any field, you can find things that 95% of people couldn't do at all, yet there are people who will find such a task easy.

So easy is relative to your skill level. For someone really skilled at the tasks you list, perhaps they really are easy for them, and it's just that us mere mortals can't do it that makes it hard for us?

Of course, the chances that the Gary Kasparov of programming happens to turn up anonymously at your message board is rather low. But it could happen. :)

Sum Dum Gai
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

To clarify:

I am talking about when someone says something is easy in general. Of course hard things are easy to someone who is an expert at them. But the true expert also realizes that the task is inherently hard and is certainly going to be difficult for people who are not experts. The poser, on the other hand, doesn't realize this. He states not that it's easy for him the expert, bit that it's just plain easy. Saying something is easy in general implies that most anyone can do it without too much trouble, or with just a small bit of practice. Thus, the purpose of the statement is to introduce a feeling of inadequacy in the listener and a sense of reverence and amazement at the person making the claim that it is easy in general. Non-experts are often fooled by this tactics, as are HR and untechnical managers. Real experts are not fooled by this and see the poser for what he is.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

And Mike,

I have designed processors for Zilog, including one that was the largest and fastest they had ever fabricated, and yet I still find that writing assembly is hard, although I do of course enjoy the challenge.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Philo, the actual quote is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and is:

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do."

(I'm an Emerson fan).

David B. Wildgoose
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

<thread> ::= <origPost> <reply>*
<origPost> ::= <statement>*
<reply> ::= <statement>* | <reply>
<statement> ::= {<relevant> | <irrelevant>}*
<relevant> ::= <technicalInfo>
          | <relateExperience>
          | <linkArticle>
          | <response>
          | <attemptAnswer>
<irrelevant> ::= <weird>
          | <religiousWar>
          | <troll>
          | <flame>
          | <smartass>
          | <spam>

but seriously, i've often wondered whether we cannot build parsers for stuff like conversations, or music or some such.

I don't really know of *good* sources on social interaction and the internet communication modes. Might be that we just don't know enough yet.

But some articles:
It's A Thin World: The Association Between Email Use and Patterns of Communication and Relationships:

Relational Patterns: (not directly 'net related, but I'm sure you will notice the seven message types :)

Slightly offtopic: The Relationship Among Internet Exposure, Communicator Context and Rurality:

worms in my brain get them out
Wednesday, October 22, 2003


Thanks for those great links. All excellent and fascinating articles.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

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