Thursday, December 11, 2014

Path Finding for Communication

"Well, I won't be able to fix it until I come back home. I need to go back to work now." Such was the message from my husband after a futile half hour of trouble shooting the server rack. Back in July, I was in this situation. Power was lost at home, the servers went crazy and my husband was out of town on a business trip. It took us several hours to get me back online, bypassing the servers and resetting the DNS addresses.

As he signed off I had to carefully lay my phone down on my desk and get up. The desire to throw it hit me like a shockwave. But, I needed my Nexus 5, and I put it down. He was not due home for ten more days and it was not acceptable that I'd just go without access due to his overly complex setup. I tried a few things myself to no avail and collapse in a puddle of misery for a while. Once I was able to crawl back to my feet I sent him a message asking him if I could at least bypass his entire server setup and go straight to the Fios box.

"Sure. I'll walk you through that tonight and we will get you around it." I stared at my phone. I found joy again. Mostly, I wondered why he couldn't have said that a bit sooner. Another sentence and I would not have wondered if I needed to divorce him.

I am not of the TL;DR generation. I type full words when I text such as 'you'. I communicate to pass on information clearly. I write so that when you are done you know what I was thinking and how. It never occupied to me to write less. I know that some say less is more but less can also be less. I have more then once wanted to scream in frustration for want of a simple bit of verbal or written communication about a situation.

In looking at Eve from the outside we have a problem of communicating to new players. Some people, such as myself, enjoy walls of text. Many people skip them and lose that vital bit of information. It is why I have been thinking about the fact that we need to present a lot of basic information in more then one way. Not everyone thinks the same and not everyone learns the same. We often discus people who learn by seeing, by doing, by hearing. Some people learn from trial and failure. Other's learn from example. You cannot educate them all in the same way and expect them to each learn. That is why current adult teaching methods tend to incorporate different pieces into the teaching system to give a broader approach to learning and information gathering.

Seeing another's thoughts is hard. Wex and I have spreadsheets for the Archons. With the entire process hinging on a bunch of numbers the spreadsheets are a nice way to see how much we will need for each project. However, during the first few days it was a struggle for me to understand the layout. It was not that Wex had created anything crazy. It was that I was seeing something that was clear and coherent for him and it was not the way that I'd arrange the information. I had to learn the flow of the information as well as the information itself.

The idea of multiple approaches to information sharing was the foundation for a question I proposed on Sunday. I wondered if a MOTD could also present itself as a floating box. I was asked, "Do you know that you can reload the MOTD?" My answer was that I did know that. But what I wanted to accomplish had nothing to do with reloading the MOTD. I was looking to solve a situation where people might not even know that a MOTD existed. With the default size of Eve's window and the amount of information contained in such channels as Rookie Chat along with the populace, information scrolls off the screen before the eye even looks at it. The MOTD is full of very valuable information however. A floating window? An automatic reminder? How do we show people that the information is there to access?

And how do we give it to them in a way they want to consume. I'm a wordy person. I've been asked to write shorter blog posts. I struggled over Foo's question to the CSMX candidates because he wanted incredibly succinct statements and I am not such a thing. That was a challenge to his question and not one that I struggle to accomplish. I've worked for years on clearly and fully expressing myself. TL;DR is my kryptonite. With a topic as important to me as the CSM snipping myself short or leaving the imagination to run wild with a statements is an unpleasant proposition.

Statements themselves can lead to problems if not properly done. I've answered a few quotes or interviews since the CSM term started. It is always my short responses that cause problems. While in other areas such as Dunk Dinkle's article on the current influx of new players I write out everything that I am thinking which often creates a miniature blog post of its own.

Communication is not a singular path. One of the simplest forms of multiply presented information that allows people to arrive at it is opening your cargo hold in Eve. You can use a short cut, select your ship and use a right click menu, select your capacitor, select the icon on the HUD when undocked, use the hanger in station services and right click, double click on your ship in the hanger, use the unified inventory to access it, and use a show contents through the asset window. I think that answers it all. What it does is create multiple paths to access something important so that players will fall into it dependent on how they have learned to interact with the UI.

I guess it may be UI bog to think the way that I am. I'm not a UI designer which means I get to live in the realm of dreams and perfect ideas. Information consumption I am familiar with. One of the worst work experiences I have ever had was when the person training me told me, "The only way that people learn is from failure. I will let you fuck up and then tell you what you did wrong."

One size rarely fits all.

Of course, I am the one who started writing as not to weigh others down with my meanderings thoughts. The blog is something of an opt in.

As for my connection? Later evening trouble shooting showed that the switch that controls everything upstairs had died. I used the wireless router and plugged cables into it. Then I reset the DNS addresses on all of the machines and things where good. I have cables snaked across the floor everywhere but I don't actually care about that. It was not the same problem as last time when one of the servers just wouldn't boot up. And I will again ask him to try to remember to indulge me with complete thoughts.

8 comments:

  1. Please never change in regards to preferring clarity over brevity :)

    If there's anything I could have back from the era before the internet became common (say '93/94) it would be information clarity. Information is now much easier to access but I also find it much harder to gauge it's actual value/relevance (even in context) a lot of the time.

    Maybe I'm just getting older though.

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  2. “I wondered if a MOTD could also present itself as a floating box.”
    Why not using the new and shiny Notifications system for that? Especially in rookie chat you could use a notification containing the MotD. An option for every channel to send the MotD as Notification on join in would ease communication in fast moving chats.
    If it than was possible to drag and drop this notification as link to a chat that would be cool. (click link – see notification; if it wasn't in your system, it is added)

    Stay with your long text, as a tl;dr simply can't transport emotion or passion like a well written text can.

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    1. I like this. Someone else also suggested a scrolling MOTD. It will always be at the top.

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  3. I agree with Kaeda here... especially with blog posts read by a large number of people, you only get one chance to lay out your thoughts. People are going to pick apart individual pieces, of course, but it's very important that bloggers get their thoughts accurate and right the first time... we'll be called to account for whatever we post, sometimes months later.

    Sure, in a conversation with someone, it's best to hit your main points and provide support later if they ask about it. But that's the nature of a conversation... it's back and forth, with positions being fully exposed only after several exchanges. Writing for a blog is different, particularly when you're writing a persuasive argument. You have to put that support in immediately or you risk not being heard at all.

    If tl;dr isn't a thing, "too many snippets, didn't catch all of them" is even more so.

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  4. Sugar, keep on with the non-TLDR. It's really the only hope we have for any sort of meaningful conversation. I can't begin to tell you the number of my younger colleagues in their 20s who can only write in TLDR. And they wonder why they don't get jobs, get promoted, etc. We're teaching the younger crowd that TLDR is okay when in fact it isn't. In order to communicate all-important nuance and the requisite details for mastery of a subject or to make a complete and persuasive argument on why something should or should not change, TLDR talking points just don't cut it.

    TLDR is great as an aide memoire for an instructor about to give a presentation, but not as the finished product attempting to get ideas across. Screw TLDR :)

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  5. I'm evil: http://www.lowseclifestyle.com/2014/07/a-partial-hiatus.html?showComment=1406195434602#c4847640026284061517

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  6. The TL:DR.. mostly.. yes. So long as it isn't longer than it needs to be to frame the discussion you're having and get the point across. Some people, and I will not name names, have a habit of turning The Cat in the Hat sized issues into War and Peace.

    For instance.. I don't need a 4 page article on color blindness and Eve. I get it, I understand it. Statistically everyone who's ever lived has had some sort of non trivial relationship somewhere in their lives with a color blind person. The entire discussion should be, "Color blindness! Eve! Please fix!". Not a doctoral thesis.

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