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Insights, stories, and surprises from Edison, October, 2010

One of the biggest thrills for me in creating Edison is watching it grow, which makes the recent burst of activity all the more exciting. This is not only because people are actually using it (which is itself remarkable in the face of so much competition for our attention) but because what they're doing is fascinating. As are their insights, which I offer along with a huge thank you.

roll the dice

(Productivity) Roll the Dice!

In Roll dice to decide next task, master experimenter James Bishop (creator of the mood-tracking site Finding Optimism) tried beating his procrastination by randomly selecting tasks

Today I'm going to decide on each next task according to a roll of dice and commit myself to no distractions in between. (I've built a couple of "reward" tasks into the list).

He calls it "a huge success" and extended it for a week. He's mixed in the Pomodoro Technique, which a client of mine uses. "The basic unit of work in the Pomodoro Technique can be split in five simple steps:"

  1. Choose a task to be accomplished
  2. Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
  3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
  4. Take a short break (5 minutes is OK)
  5. Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break

Uber-experimenter Brock Tice has joined in, as has new user Johan, and went so far as to create his Taskomatic tool to help choose tasks.

Going on a Media Diet

Another prolific TTL'er, Ralf Westphal decided to Go on a New Media Diet for 10 days:

I will cut down on the (new) media I'm consuming. I will cancel 2 magazine subscriptions, will not check Twitter (although I might myself write a tweet), and I will not read any of the 90 news feed I'm subscribed to. (I'm not doing anything with Facebook.)

We are almost all overloaded, and this experiment is a good way to determine just how much. You can find related posts on the media diets here.

Let's go for a Walk. Across Germany

An ambitious experiment that's Ralf's also doing is to Walk from Munich to Nuremberg in 6 Days. He had some very fine insights as a result of the challenges and surprises:

One realization: Don't ask "why?" but "what for?" Because what happened during our non-walking days was we developed some cool ideas for a software development tool and started implementing it. Looks good. And I found time to write an article for a magazine.
Staying agile is core. Have a plan - but adapt to change. Analyse what went wrong why - and move on with what's feasible.
And we had another great idea: Instead of walking the whole day the next time we do sth like this we will alternate between walking and working. Like yesterday and today. Some walking/strolling, some working on stuff we talked about while walking. This would combine generating ideas while walking with starting to implement them. Walking induced creativity ;-)

Excellent work, Ralf!

Testing Folk Wisdom for Weather Prediction

You might have heard the adage, "Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in morning, sailor's warning". Well user Diane put it to the test in Mackerel Sky. What I love is this discovery of hers:

I was just about to close this experiment when I discovered something new that I hadn't EVER noticed before. On Sunday heavy rain was predicted for Thursday. On Monday and Tuesday there was a small amount of mackerel sky. On Wednesday there was more. And on Thursday it rained. It was building up all week. I had never noticed that before because the weather pundits claim you get rain within several hours of a mackerel sky.

Read a nice analysis from the Library of Congress Home in Is "Red sky at night, sailor's delight,Red sky in morning, sailor's warning" true? Everyday Mysteries.

Passionate discussion: Oil Pulling (plus a lesson learned)

The experiment oil pulling brought out some strong discussion, kicked off by the question,

I don't suppose you'd humor me and try something besides oil, like water, with the same technique?

The idea behind this is to add a control (part of the Scientific Method) to separate out the impact of the particular liquid swished. If you're interested opinions on the validity of the technique, check out this fascinating discussion at The Skeptics Society.

At a meta level, this discussion was an eye-opener for me. As the Think, Try, Learn leader and Edison moderator I learned from this that I need to tune in to discussions that might, as Brock puts it, "hijack the experiment." What I'll experiment with is moving it elsewhere, say to a blog post I set up for the specific topic. In a sense this is a good problem to have; people are using the system, trying out the TTL methodology, and doing things they care about that might help improve themselves. In the process they are showing courage by making some of their experiments public, which I am honored by and respect.

(As an aside, the ability to create private experiments should be implemented in a few weeks. This feature will allow you to create experiments that only invited people can view and comment on, which is a top Edison request. Exciting!)

Reader Comments (3)

Even without the other steps for Rolling the Dice, it at the least adds some fun into what your stuck on, which might just be enough to get you moving. Great idea!
October 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Oates
Agreed! Want to give it a shot?
October 23, 2010 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell
yeah, it is a great idea about rolling up the dice so we can keep going on..
January 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCremation burial urns

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