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Relativity

I feel lately like a conflation of a couple of characters from Vernor Vinge's True Names: the Mailman AI, who was non-realtime and communicated by teletype, and one of the oldtimers who relied on hacks like short-term-memory reload to stay sentient. Probably any parent (or fulltime caregiver) can relate: the number of hours a day spent being called upon, plus the number of hours spent recharging, comes arbitrarily close to 24, and the number of minutes of clearheaded ability to do stuff goes arbitrarily close to 0. Especially when that stuff requires of flow state, or requires significant physical setup, or even any substantial mental review of "where was I" so that the next step becomes clear again.

Which is a lousy excuse for spending most of the summer getting maybe a day's worth of work out of most weeks. Or my bemusement at getting email from the admin of our co-working space and seeing him get replies from other people within an hour or two.

But it also made me think (during the time when I probably should have been debugging the laser software or soldering some headers or something) about all the science fiction that's been written over the past couple of generations about interactions between people operating on different timescales. Not so much the old stuff about going out to pioneer the stars and returning to your grandchildren's grandchildren, but the newer ones where everyone is in constant communication and it's still not constant enough.

I'm not sure that this is what those books were actually written about, or that the human experience of living on multiple wrong timescales was anything like what motivated the authors. But I think it is in many ways a realworld issue that's crucial to various enterprises. Or something.

But that's about as far as I can go on this, and it's time to take out the garbage and clean the kitchen and go to bed early (!) because tomorrow is dress rehearsal for getting the kids out of the house by 730 to meet the school bus. (During the past month, C has been refusing to hear that the academic year was approaching, so we've been referring to it as Voldemort.)

Comments

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selki
Aug. 29th, 2012 03:40 am (UTC)
Interesting thoughts about the science fiction books.

Speaking of flow, I have been trying to get my company to look at research about interruptions and (ineffective) multi-tasking impacts to productivity.
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