Tuesday, July 13, 2010


To have a nicely working system, people should know the names of things. And computers and programs make this even more difficult since they are so inflexible when it comes to names.
So put oneself in a multi-lingual environment with disparate computer codes, and naming of things becomes a difficult job.
I'm trying to get my own mess sorted out. I have directories with names that classify.
I have files with different extensions implying the programs that can read them.
And I have different projects I am working on. I keep redefining the projects, so I keep renaming them, and there is overlap between the different projects. And I seem to have multiple copies of the same files in different locations.
Basically, there are settings for devices, there is a corresponding parameter in a model, and then there are measured and calculated quantities for these different settings.
Sometimes settings are named based on the day they were used to link them together with other parameters for those days. Sometimes they are named with something like the word 'nominal' to try to push these into standard settings.
Now, I might think I am obsessive about this sort of thing except for the fact that I really have not yet created a working system. So its really just unfinished work that I'm having trouble moving forward on.

A final point about this kind of work. There are two aspects to this kind of work. First there is this clarification work. Work to try to make language that works well for the different people involved. Then there is actually getting stuff done. For the latter purpose, there will inevitable be arbitrary choices made. The area is complicated enough that its not always clear what the right thing to do is. The point is that you should know what you did. So if someone asks you, you can tell, and they can repeat (or you can!) if necessary. So you need to know what you did. And depending on the kinds of people you are working with, you may also need to have answers ready to defend the arbitrary choices you made- or at least a strategy so that you could easily try something else if you can't defend a choice.

There is a conflict between doing something definite and coming up with an appropriate language to describe what you are doing. Doing something definite will often make you make choices about language before you are ready to do so. Walking the line between these two things is the key to move forward but also bring others along with you so that it can help the total understanding and group good as well.