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Letter: "I'm sure they wish that they didn't have to tell the computer things in an obtuse language..."

Sam DeCesare and I continue to have smart exchanges over email. He's kindly allowed me to share another set of his thoughts -

On an unrelated note, I just realized that you wrote the Defecting by Accident article. I've noticed the same behavior among technical people. It's interesting that someone will accept that to get a computer to do what you want you have to tell it things in a very specific way, but won't accept that you have to do the same thing with people. I'm sure they wish that they didn't have to tell the computer things in an obtuse language, but they don't refuse to learn how to program because of it. Computers just are that way, there's nothing to do but deal with it. People are the same; we're just wired to respond positively to sincere praise and kindness and respond poorly to insult and criticism. I suspect the problem is that we tend to blame and condemn people when they do things we don't like, and the purpose of blame is to make yourself feel better and absolve yourself of responsibility. If it's other people's fault that they don't respond to your frank style, then they need to change, not you. As it happens though, blame is completely unproductive, no one's ever gotten people to change by blaming them. So the frank and direct person never makes any progress with people.

Really, that whole excerpt is brilliant, and I'd recommend you re-read it thoroughly if you're skimming. This was the biggest insight for me -

"It's interesting that someone will accept that to get a computer to do what you want you have to tell it things in a very specific way, but won't accept that you have to do the same thing with people. I'm sure they wish that they didn't have to tell the computer things in an obtuse language, but they don't refuse to learn how to program because of it."

Sam and I previously had a little discussion on the topic of, "How much do people make their own decisions?"

Write up: March 28th Beginner's Parkour Workshop in Rochester

On Jumping on Entrepreneurship

Rochester Parkour hosted their first “Beginner's Parkour Workshop” in December. 35 people attended, mostly regulars. On Saturday, March 28th, Rochester Parkour hosted their second “Beginner's Parkour Workshop.” There was no definitive count, but the lower estimate was 100 people, mostly newcomers. During the first workshop, it was in the low 30s and starting to snow. This time, it was in the high 60s, sunny, and a beautiful day.

This picture was taken at the end of the workshop, after approximately half the group had left.

The workshop was scheduled to start at 2:30, but Zac decided to go a little bit early. When he got there at 2:00, there was already a handful of people waiting. After some introductions and idle chit-chat, Zac noticed a police car pulling up and parking nearby. After watching for a bit, the officers got out of their car and started walking over. At this point, Zac was convinced that the workshop was going to get broken up 25 minutes before it even started! He started walking toward the officers to introduce himself. After a brief exchange of introductions, the officers asked if this was the Parkour thing they saw on the RNews (the local news station). Reluctantly, Zac replied that it was. At this point, everyone else was silent and staring. There was a ten second awkward silence, then one officer laughed and said “You guys aren't in trouble! We just thought it was cool and wanted to check it out. We're not even from around here, we're from the next district over.”

Everyone talked with the officers for a bit, and they even said they'd try to stop back again during the workshop (although they weren't able to). It was a stressful, but overall positive indication of how the day was going to go!

Over the course of the next 25 minutes, more and more people showed up. Introductions were made, a Frisbee game broke out. A lot of teenage boys were coming, but there was also at least 10 girls who came out to participate! There were some adults, and even a few families that came out to give it a try! There was a husband and a wife, and their three young children who did a fantastic job! People just kept pouring over the hill and onto the field, until it was about 2:40, and it was definitely time to get started. A quick estimate of the turnout resulted in over 100 people!

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