Showing posts from February, 2020

Crafting Questions: Discovery vs. Exploration

Asking good questions is a key to effective communication. However, what makes a good question? Are the attributes of a good question always the same or are they dependent on the situation? What does it mean for communication to be effective? This blog post is designed to be my own musings upon this subject. These tips should apply whether you are in a corporate setting, talking with your spouse, asking questions to a college professor, or anything in between. Our plan is to start with definitions and then learn some question asking strategies.

Effective communication literally means communication that effects, or brings into being, some desired outcome. The first ingredient is to have a desired outcome. Without this communication by definition cannot be effective. Before asking a question determine your desired outcome. This is your goal. Sometimes your goal is a specific answer to a specific question. Other times your goal is to invite the other person to explore the space of possi…

Experimenting with Conway's Game of Life

I recently discovered Conway's Game of Life, "a cellular automaton devised by the British mathematician John Horton Conway in 1970." as described by Wikipedia. This is a "game" with a simple set of rules. There is a grid, and each grid can be alive or dead. Living cells with two or three live neighbors remain alive and dead cells with three live neighbors become alive. Those are the only rules, and yet with these rules unexpected emergent complexity can arise as illustrated by the below gif [1].

The simple rules and emergent depth fascinated me, and this has been used as an example of emergent complexity, a metaphor for how complexity can exist in our own universe, and as an educational tool. It is also a chaotic system, in that slight changes to the initial conditions can dramatically affect later states in unpredictable ways. The game has no definite history, as the rules cannot simply be played backwards. Any one state could have many possible previous state…