Cluttered Desk, Logical Mind?

Jul 13, 2016 | Software Development | 0 comments

Right-brained creatives have long argued that messy desks are a necessity to creative thought. Several studies have backed that up, suggesting that orderly desks inspire folks to act in more expected ways and messy desks spur creativity.

But NPR’s Note To Self took an interesting look at using algorithms and logical thinking to approach life in a different way.

A messy desk is actually a great example of temporal locality, it was argued. Think about paper like computer files. That large stack of paper on a desk organically growing taller and taller is simply a reverse chronological ordering system. Just like you can sort your digital folder by “last modified,” your non-digital system is sorted that way organically. And that’s exactly the order of likelihood you’ll need to access that piece of paper again.

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Other defenses of human software:

  • Brain farts: Simply a cache miss. As you get older, you accumulate even more data. So it takes a little longer to sort through.
  • Relying on the familiar: You go to the same restaurant for lunch every day because you’ve tried many restaurants and found this one to be the best. An algorithm suggests you’re more likely to enjoy your meal at a known entity than to risk a bad lunch to find a better one.
  • Defense of the junk drawer: A Radix Sort suggests that just because something looks great doesn’t mean it’s functionally great. If you know where something is and it is at hand quickly when needed, it may be more efficient than having a perfectly staged home.

In what ways does software-thinking impact your non-work life?

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