Win Your Copy: Pragmatic Thinking & Learning: Refactor Your Wetware
Buy it now
One Minute Bottom Line
If you design and/or develop software then you should buy this book and read it right away.
This is chapter does a nice job of introducing you to the book and giving you an idea of what to expect in the chapters that follow. While this book isn’t specifically for programmers, Andy assumes that most of the readers are either programmers or “frustrated users” and takes the opportunity to talk about his view on why software development is difficult to do properly and what this book can do to correct the problem.
2 Journey from Novice to Expert
This chapter introduces you to the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition and uses it to explain the five levels of skill mastery you’ll go through on the way from being a novice to an expert. It also discusses some of the problems that arise when the people designing processes do not understand the difference between levels, and why giving a novice a tool won’t make them as good as an expert.
3 This Is Your Brain
You get your first peek at the brain and an introduction to the model of how it works that is used throughout the rest of the book. Andy also introduces to the two styles of thinking the brain uses; the Linear and Rich modes. Andy prefers using these descriptions instead of the more traditional “Left brain” and “Right brain” because it is “more correct.” (If you want to know why, find a copy of the book and read the sidebar on page 58.) For now think of Linear mode as being like a computer (logically a following instructions step by step), and Rich mode as using intuition to go beyond your “programming” and begin “thinking outside the box.”
In any case, Andy provides some ideas on what each mode excels at and a way to begin refactoring your wetware.
4 Get in Your Right Mind
This is one of the longer chapters in the book and focuses on Rich mode thinking; what it is, how to encourage it, and how to integrate it with our more often used Linear mode of thought. It also includes several interesting exercises to help you experience R-mode thinking.
5 Debug Your Mind
Chapter five offers the opportunity to look at many of the known bugs in the human brain. These include the following:
- Cognitive biases - things that unconsciously sway your decision making.
- Generational affinity - biases formed as you grew up. This bug is called “generational” because people in the same generation share many of the same biases.
- Personality tendencies - the quirky things that make perfect sense to you but seem odd or confusing to others.
- Hardware bugs - things in the “legacy brain” (as Kathy Sierra refers to it) that operate at a very low level; for example fight or flight behavior, and the need to know where we fit in the social hierarchy. These biases are very powerful but once you’re aware of them, it is possible to take steps to counteract them or at least notice when they’re operating and try to take them into account and minimize they’re effect on you.
6 Learn Deliberately
Here’s where you start to learn about learning; what it is, the difference between effective and ineffective learning methods, and some techniques (like having SMART goals, creating a Pragmatic Investment Plan for your “knowledge portfolio”, “learn by teaching”, and using a mind map) that you can use to make your learning sessions more efficient and effective.
7 Gain Experience
Experiential learning, aka learn by doing, is one of the most effective ways to learn something. It’s how you learn most things (like riding a bike or programming a computer) and there are things you can do to make your learning environment more efficient. You’ll also learn about the importance of failing and the need for good feedback.
8 Manage Focus
You may find this may be hard to believe, but it’s harder for you to learn new things when you’re constantly being interrupted. This chapter points out some of the most common interruptions and ways of minimizing or eliminating them so you can focus your attention on what you are trying to learn. Andy also shows you how to use a Wiki as an Exo-Cortex so you can capture and manage information instead of losing it.
9 Beyond Expertise
Now that you know all this stuff, what are you going to do about it? This chapter acknowledges that sometimes it is difficult to make changes and offers some suggestions on how to get started with debugging and refactoring your wetware.
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