Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hmmmm... Back Blogging...

After school today I was reminded of how 2 minds are (much) better than 1. I've been trying to solve some intractable problems with the final design for the PVC computer table so I can get going on ordering and making them. Well, Ed and I sat down at the 1 prototype after school and launched off from where the 4 of us--Christen, James, Ed and I--left off 3 days ago: more great ideas but nothing solid.

Eddie starts off, "So what's the problem?" I describe it, that there wouldn't be a way to put wood in the middle of the table top and we analyzed the problem and saw it wasn't one.

It would have been interesting to somehow diagram the co-generation of ideas in our 45 minute session, somehow representing the way that the design would grow like an amoeba: extending and developing in 1 direction, then another and sometimes an appendage would withdraw/get erased, but then re-grow when one of us/we saw that it was actually the better solution.

I got very happy as problem after problem got solved and a very nice solution grew. Now, there is only 1 problemcito that hopefully can be solved with the new prototype I'll be building.

Anyway, I was wondering exactly why 2 minds are so much better than 1. I wonder if it has something to do with the limits of ones working memory--it can only handle so many permutations at one time but someone else can hold several more so with good team dynamics we, in some senses, have the capacity of 2 working memories added together, able to consider so much more simultaneously. Just like that sentence. Not only is it a double-sized working memory, but really a sharing of the ways-of-thinking of 2 distinct universes. Ok off the deep end, I know...

But it was fun :-)
And productive.

Here's a picture:


  1. Your 'two minds better' comments reminded me of how useful I have found it to have a second person when
    confronted by an intractable software bug. Sometimes the problem is obvious to the other person but curiously, it seems to help even when the other person does not possess
    programming skills. It seems like
    verbally explaining the logic of the problem - with feedback about the general logic that forces one to try again, somehow give one a new perspective or maybe invokes a different part of the brain. I've had times when the second person
    basically gave no feedback but the process of explaining resulted in
    recognition of the key aspects of the bug.

  2. Indeed, Fred, this is so true. As you say, sometime all you need is a good listener in front of you and you just start talking and after a while you answer your own question. I know as a teacher I rarely answer flat out a students questions because often they can answer it themselves with a bit of guidance though I guess that is different. As you say, I wonder if when you hear yourself talk (or do the mental effort to create the verbal communication) that some other part of your brain comes into action that isn't activated otherwise. I don't know, this is an important question I think...