“Average” considered harmful

The vast majority of people have more than the average number of legs.

The average mother has 2.36 children even though no mother has that number.

We have an intuitive grasp of what it means when something is average, typical, or representative.  Math and statistics formalize “average” in terms of mean, median, and mode.  Each of these quantities condenses the complicated details of a distribution into a single number.

That number oversimplifies things, though.  Bizarre, counterintuitive, and seemingly paradoxical things happen with unusual (not-so-representative) distributions.

Continue reading ““Average” considered harmful”

Realistic development ambitions

When defining goals for a startup, or outlining requirements for significant new software development, a lot of things pressure us to be too ambitious. A little stress is energizing, but striving toward unrealistic goals is both damaging and wasteful.

Pressure

It’s a proud and noble thing, setting out on the hero’s journey, to slay the dragon or strive against the odds, to dream the impossible dream. As Shaw wrote, “all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”” Steve Blank speaks of “crazy entrepreneurs” who are hallucinating, yet sometimes are actually visionaries.

Continue reading “Realistic development ambitions”

Hello world

Hello, world.

As I belatedly start my journey into the blogosphere, this XXI-century version of the vanity press, I expect I’ll be musing on topics I myself take an interest in, like technology, software development, maker community, or linguistics, and who knows, perhaps a side excursion to the shores of drug discovery or U.S. politics or something.  If I sound desultory, well, the future is all vaporware.