TITLE: A Formula for Intelligence
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: November 28, 2005 7:22 PM
DESC: I get smarter when I talk to other people.
It occurred to me today that my intelligence on any
given day is roughly proportional to the number of
people I talk to that day:
I = k|P|
This is true when I do department head stuff. The
more people I get information from, the more people
I share ideas with and get feedback from... the
more I know, and the better I can do my job.
It is true when I teach. When I talk to other
instructors, I learn from them, both by hearing their
ideas and by expressing my ideas verbally to them.
When I talk to students about our classes, whether
they are in my class or not, I learn a little bit
about what works, what doesn't, and what makes students
It is true when I program. The agile software methods
institutionalized this in the form of high degree of
interaction among developers. XP raises it to the
level of Standard Practice in the form of pair
programming. Programmers who refuse to try pairing
rarely understand what they are missing.
The value of k depends on a lot of factors,
some of which are within my daily control and some of
which are in my control only over longer time horizons.
On a daily basis, I can seek out the best folks possible
on campus and in my circle of professional colleagues
available only by e-mail. Over longer time periods,
I can choose the conferences I should attend, the academic
communities I can participate in, and even where I want
to be employed.
We all know the adages about hiring the smartest employees
one can, about being the least accomplished person on the
team, and so on. This is why: it increases the value of