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Personal Directives

Personal Directives is a(n) directive

it is about emsenn


Directives are the principles under which I operate, which guide my objectives, decision-making, and actions.


002: Data should be private

I should treat all the personal information I hold, about other people or organizations, as private: their property that I have access to under whatever terms are appropriate for my relationship with them.

003: Useful information cannot be owned

Any bit of information that is useful, meaning imparts some utility to anyone who has it, where utility means satisfying the person's desires.

This one can seem at-odds with the Data should be private directive - if useful information can't be owned, doesn't that mean lots of data can't be private?

That's… correct, unfortunately; the two directives are at-odds with each other. If your data is useful, you can't own it, at least not forever. Someone who has access to it is either going to steal it (maybe unintentionally, simply by mimicking it), or come up with whatever notion it is, on their own.

Think about the statistics of it: most problems are shared by many many people. If even half of them come up with a solution, that's still many people, and some of them might have a solution identical to - or better than - yours. And even if they don't, more people in the future will encounter the same problems, and eventually, come up with a solution that's better than yours.

You can patent your solutions to prevent this, but that requires a large amount of capital to accomplish, and even more to maintain, and even then, someone might come up with a better solution.

So, it's better to just share what you know that's useful.

004: Competition should be purposeful

Any time I notice myself in competition with someone or another organization, or find myself potentially preparing for competition, it's important I ask myself, is there a purpose to this competition: is it going to drive both parties to innovate, or so on?

005: Figurative language is lazy

Things can be beautifully described as they are. This extends to software: “an ounce of application is worth a ton of abstraction.”

006: Data should be parseable by humans

Any data that I keep track of, I should make sure it's easily readable by humans, if it's at all possible. It's easy enough for a computer to translate that human-readable data into something more feasible for its own use.

007: Deprecating deviation from defaults should be motivated

Changes to a system which make it incompatible with its default operating mode should only be done if there's a good reason. This is of extra importance if I'm tutoring, since I'll will often be interacting with default systems & their users.

008: No job is finished until the paperwork is complete

Any action I take should not be considered complete until the paperwork is finished. This one is fairly concrete compared to the other objectives: My work follow procedures, those procedures come with instructions for recordkeeping. Follow those instructions.

012 Information should be atomic

I should keep information maintained in a state where it's useful on its own, without needing to reference other information. This makes it more likely to be useful, and in line with Directive #018, more worth sharing.

013: The universe is intelligible

I believe the universe is intelligible: it is possible to understand how any and all of it works. I don't believe anyone presently does, and I think the odds of anyone ever doing so are very slim, but I think it's important to recognize that every question does have an answer.

014: Avoid learning proprietary systems

Most proprietary systems are proprietary because they're taking advantage of temporal arbitrage: the fact no one else is offering the same thing as them for free, yet. That's kind of a greedy way to make money, so we'd rather put our resources into people who share their information for free, and only charge for their actual work - just like us.

015: Avoid building systems that require learning proprietary information

016: There are at least two perspectives on everything

017: Only functional systems should be automated

It can be tempting to automate anything that happens near a computer. This often leads to a mess of broken systems, or a huge sink of time fixing bugs. Automate things in the beta stage, not before.

018: Useful information should be shared.

This directive serves as extension of #003, making an implication explicit. While that directive says that useful information cannot be owned, and its text (currently) suggests that it is better to share it, this directive makes that clear.

022: Satire can be dangerous

The audiences like to think that satire is doing something. But, in fact, it is mostly to leave themselves satisfied. Satisfied rather than angry, which is what they should be. – Tom Lehrer

023: Nothing results in nothing

Everything results in something. Even failure gets you experience. Kin dof related to #016, I suppose: what might result in “nothing” from one perspective probably is something from another.