Sunday, October 12, 2008

If you give a mouse a cookie...

It's going to want a glass of milk. Then, it's going to need a straw to drink that glass of milk with, so you'll have to go to the store to get a straw. Once you come back, you'll find out that the mouse isn't tall enough to drink the milk from the straw, so you'll have to get it a chair...

This pretty much describes the group project I'm working on right now. The more I think about something, the more I realize that I could go more in-depth on the subject. As I dig my head farther in, I realize that I should go refine my original assumptions about the problem. Then, I figure out that I need to change something. As soon as I change something, it changes all the other properties of whatever structure I'm working on, then I have to start thinking about everything again.... Every so often, I get e-mails from the rest of the team, who have been thinking about their respective parts of the problem, sending off a huge list of numbers and something like "Oh, the mouse no longer wants a cookie, it wants a carrot." "No, the mouse obviously doesn't want a carrot. Didn't we decide that the mouse wants cheese?" "Well, if you guys think back to the last meeting we had with the project co-ordinator, you'll remember that he clearly pointed to a picture of a mouse that wanted oregano."

Hooray for iterative processes! These projects are good for reinforcing that there is no perfect solution, or no best solution. You can't analyze everything, at some point you kind of just have to arbitrarily pick something, go with it, and see if things work out. I want to let go of my desire to analyze everything, but I can see the eight pages on my floor multiplying to twenty, thirty... must stop!

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I tend to veer off on tangents. Pick your tangent from the menu on the right.