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I still don't understand how a normally smart person's inability to work with a computer is parallel to the way rational people operate irrationally in the work place. The latter, I agree, is an example of compartmentalization, as people prioritize their personal life to the extent that they are willing to rationalize operating in a lousy office environment to support their lifestyle. But I don't think people are compartmentalizing when they can't understand computers--I think they simply aren't familiar with the system. If it was compartmentalization you wouldn't see computer literacy increase with familiarity--which you do. And you wouldn't see people's ability to become more literate increase when the percentage of their life in which they have been exposed to computers increases--which you also do.

Your other example about your mathematician father doesn't clarify things for me either. It actually seems like a non sequitur.

My dad is a high calibre mathematician, dealing in abstractions at a level that seems stratospheric compared to my rusty-college-math.

Wikipedia Entry for Compartmentalization

I don't interpret your thoughts on work-life compartmentalization to be a criticism--so I don't think you need to set it up with an example to soften the blow, especially since it's confusing (to me at least) how your example logically supports the second half of your post.

Let me know if I'm misinterpreting something.

So is there hope for corporate culture? I sort of think the ability to articulate your ideas clearly and quickly is the key. It would be interesting to see how corporate culture changes if a company tries to only hire the most articulate people. They could even create an articulation test I bet!

On another note, I don't think anyone has ever shut down their computer in the hopes that it would help them find a file. That example throws me off for a few reasons actually. I think your thoughts not being true to yourself at work are very valid, but I think the reason it happens is because we're trying to fit within a system (not such an irrational idea in many cases). Learning how that new system operates is key to mastering it--weather it's corporate culture or a new type of computer platform. I would argue that it's a lack of familiarity with a given system that makes us seem "stupid" when we try to work within it. Going back to my previous comment, it's all about communication rather than force-fitting your own more rational system. Lucky for us, computers are easy to communicate with once you learn their language--it becomes a very rational relationship in a way. Communicating with other people, however, is not so reliable and organized.

Teamwork only happens when everyone in the group respects each other. Without respect, people don't try to understand different ways of thinking and communication breaks down. You end up with an environment where everyone has their own agenda, no one speaks the same language or subscribes to the same logic, and junior-level employees are forced to operate within a uniform system to which only small incremental changes can be made. It's so difficult to be understood that a very limiting lexicon of cliches develops to compensate, i.e. "reinvent the wheel" and "think outside the box." Even with respect, people don't have time to listen to each other. I agree that rational thinking could improve the workplace, but time is money and rational processes take time. If it was my company, I would say it was worth it--I crave efficiency in every system I chose to participate.

That said, I think it's inefficient to try and change corporate culture from the bottom up--but that doesn't mean I will stop trying. My reasoning being that if I'm not successful, at least I will have significantly honed my communication skills (hopefully).

The new functionality wouldn't allow users to edit the post, but rather alert the author that there is a typo that might need fixing--does that help clarify my previous comment? I agree that allowing users to edit posts without the approval of the author could do more harm than good.

Imagine that there is another link below each post that opens the text of the post in a new window in which you are able to highlight typos (this could be programmed in a variety of ways--I would want to do more research on it to determine the best one). Once submitted, highlighted typos will automatically be Direct Messaged to the author in a automated format (see example below) and a little red dot will appear in the margin next to a line for which a typo alert was submitted--helping make sure authors are not flooded with alerts about the same typo. If a dot in the margin is too hard to program, here is an alternative: When a user clicks on the link to create a typo-alert, the highlighted text from previous typo-alerts submitted by other users is displayed in the pop-up window.


Dear [Name]

User [Name] has found the following typos in your post. [copy of sentence with highlighted text from typo-pop-out box inserted here]. You can correct any typos in your post by using the Edit function.

Thanks, The Typo-Alert Generator

This may not be the best system, but through collaboration I think we can figure something out. Until there is some kind of efficient system in place that leverages the fact that web programming can be easily changed to suit a site's specific needs, I think we should just ignore typos and allow the highest level users to edit any glaring mistakes for clarity as they see fit.

Yes, I volunteer myself. I would need feedback on the best solution--as the one I previously outlined was just one way it could be done. Right now, below each post are the following options: Vote up, Vote down, Comments (#), Save, and Report. They could easily add "Mark a typo" or "Report a typo" that could pop out a new window in which you can alert the author of a typo that needs fixing.

In terms of effort vs. gain--you pose an interesting question. I would argue that it is worth the effort. This is a website about rational thought, so it seems fitting that it should have a smooth user interface that they're constantly trying to optimize. I also think any effort into finding a better way or creating a better system is always well spent because it creates an environment that nurtures innovative thinking and progress. So even though programming a new function would only have an incremental benefit to users, I think little things like this have a positive impact on the way people think. Web programming is such a flexible medium, allowing improvements like this--and just like people on this site put extra time and effort into the pursuit of truth and rationality, I think we should also put extra effort into optimizing our systems of interaction, making them as efficient as possible. Efficiency is the sister of rationality.

I find it distracting when people report typos in the public comments--more distracting than the typos themselves in the actual post. There should be a better interface that: 1) allows users to easily report typos without writing a comment or a direct message 2) drives awareness that the community should help edit posts 3) alerts users that a typo has been reported in a unintrusive way.

Perhaps they can make each line of a post a live link that you can click to view a pop-up box in which you can write an edit. A little red dot in the margin by a line in which a user has reported an error would be enough to let people know it's been taken care of. A little note in the margin that explains the system will help spread the word.

In lieu of a new system--we have to figure out if it's more important to influence the readability of articles or more important to insure the flow of comments is not disrupted. I would argue that the comment flow is way more important, considering how the caliber of the users in this community protect the readability of the articles from any serious jeopardy. The flow of comments, on the other hand, is what makes this forum uniquely nurturing to rational thought. This detailed matrix of connecting ideas is as reflective of the cognitive process as it is supportive of it.

The desire to persuade people isn't necessarily rational, especially when it comes to "enlightening" people on the superiority of rational thought. I think a truly rational person's allegiance should always rest in truth. Truth, in it self, is a very powerful notion that doesn't need the help of manipulative persuasive tactics to inspire people.

I think persuasive techniques can be adapted to help discover the truth, as long as the parties involved completely respect each other and are willing to ask questions that help the other better articulate their perspective--they have to ultimately be on the same side and trust that there is rational thought behind each other's statements, even if it's not apparent at first.

As far as the Advertising example goes, I think I disagree. Advertising has become less effective because there is so much more of it. There are advertisements in more places than ever and and consumers are so used to seeing it that it's hard to break through that clutter and grab their attention, especially in terms of the interruptive-based advertising model that is used on TV and in banner advertising online.

What might actually illustrate this point is the reason why advertising can be really horrible. It's not that ad specialist have to signal their cleverness in a way that sabotages the end product by making it too clever, but more that people in the industry are constantly having to justify it's quality to clients and colleagues--so they end up justifying things and approving things that are actually really bad.

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