Ask vs Guess

I stumbled upon this discussion today where someone brings up the difference between people raised in an “Ask Culture” or a “Guess Culture”. I like this thought it explains behavior that cause most roommate fights. I also think that regardless of if a person is an asker or a guesser, people will be in different places in their personality and will be more or less amenable to the two different forms of behavior.

It was written in response to someone who really didn’t want a friend of a friend staying at their house, but didn’t want to be rude and say no.

This is a classic case of Ask Culture meets Guess Culture.

In some families, you grow up with the expectation that it’s OK to ask for anything at all, but you gotta realize you might get no for an answer. This is Ask Culture.

In Guess Culture, you avoid putting a request into words unless you’re pretty sure the answer will be yes. Guess Culture depends on a tight net of shared expectations. A key skill is putting out delicate feelers. If you do this with enough subtlety, you won’t even have to make the request directly; you’ll get an offer. Even then, the offer may be genuine or pro forma; it takes yet more skill and delicacy to discern whether you should accept.

All kinds of problems spring up around the edges. If you’re a Guess Culture person — and you obviously are — then unwelcome requests from Ask Culture people seem presumptuous and out of line, and you’re likely to feel angry, uncomfortable, and manipulated.

If you’re an Ask Culture person, Guess Culture behavior can seem incomprehensible, inconsistent, and rife with passive aggression.

Obviously she’s an Ask and you’re a Guess. (I’m a Guess too. Let me tell you, it’s great for, say, reading nuanced and subtle novels; not so great for, say, dating and getting raises.)

Thing is, Guess behaviors only work among a subset of other Guess people — ones who share a fairly specific set of expectations and signalling techniques. The farther you get from your own family and friends and subculture, the more you’ll have to embrace Ask behavior. Otherwise you’ll spend your life in a cloud of mild outrage at (pace Moomin fans) the Cluelessness of Everyone.

As you read through the responses to this question, you can easily see who the Guess and the Ask commenters are. It’s an interesting exercise.

I also think people, even worthwhile people can be dicks sometimes regardless of why.

Brooklyn Technical High School Alumni Today!

Brooklyn Technical High School
Image via Wikipedia

I hate the feeling of being sold.

I’ve been getting a lot of emails and letters in the mail from my Alumni Association asking for me to update my info. Let me correct that.

I’ve been getting a lot of emails and letters from a book company that my Alumni Association has sold my information to. If you’re a Brooklyn Technical High School alumni you’ve probably been getting them too. So I called them up, give them my info they so desperately needed.

They said I’d probably be surprised to know how many other Alumni might be in the area of Brooklyn that I live in. I told them, “No I wont, everyone is on facebook.” Going downhill from there, I was hard sold on the $100 book (two easy payments..) and then the $80 softcover book , and then the $40 CD-ROM.

I can’t honestly figure out why they’re selling a CD-ROM.

I guess I can, most of their customers are going to be older alumni. (Like my dad, who didn’t buy the book either. Hi dad!) I can actually think of a few good reasons to own the book, like getting in touch with older alumni mostly. But I can’t justify spending that much for a list of names with pictures and stories.

I figure if they’re going to use my info for their business I’ll use my info for my business.

My education at Brooklyn Tech gave me an extra edge when I entered college and the workforce. I have applied the lessons I learned there, in both classes and  clubs, to my work and my life. Notably, founding taught me what it takes to lead a team of people, and the CCNA classes taught me how to take care of complex networking issues with ease, allowing me to concentrate on higher level problems when I started Wizard Computing, LLC, my computer consultancy.

Seeing the directions the people I met in school, and continue to meet though, are going makes me proud to be an alum.

Three Strikes and you’re out (of internet)

Torrent Freak writes about a counter measure:

Yesterday we reported that a provision in the revamped French “3 strikes” bill will allow for the punishment of ISP account holders for the copyright infringing actions of others. Now a group of hackers has set out to compromise WiFi routers en masse, in order to create an environment of plausible deniability.

I very much like this idea. It goes to show they’re missing the point. They can’t stop people from downloading movies and in trying to they’re creating toothless laws, who will disproportionately hurt a small segment of offenders and be ineffective at stopping the behavior.

It’s similar to clients asking me to lock down their computers so their kids can’t get to porno websites or so they can limit their Facebook usage. I can do it, and have, but I tell them the kids will find a way around it, it’s much better handled though social rather then technological methods. Educating the kids about the net is a far better method for keeping them honest, but happens to be a tall order when their parents often don’t quite understand it themselves.

Recently I’ve found a rather effective web monitoring method that instead of blocking sites it just reports to the user how much time they spend on the site. It’s meant for offices and is called webspy, and works on the theory that people don’t want to spend all day at work browsing the web, they want to be “good” but just need to be kept in check. It follows the principal that when you know people are watching you’ll do a better job.

I’m not going to touch on the internet piracy 3 strike laws, but I’m glad in France they’re making sure a judge makes the decision to cut someone off the net and not the accuser. The overhead in that is so immense it probably wont happen. Who wants to jail their own community anyway? If everyone’s committing the crime is it a crime? If it’s “considered harmful” like crystal meth for example, what do you do then?

There’s a big meth problem in a lot of towns and cities in the united states, I’m wondering if “Jail” is the answer. If you have a large community doing something harmful to itself, (that may actually be a crime as well) how do you recover from that? Obviously there needs to be a group effort, and some level of amnesty. I’m curious what kind of effort would be effective.

Going back to something a lot less “harmful”, what about file sharing and copyright infringement? I don’t consider it to be harmful to society, people are making other business models work in regards to music and movies, and there’s a lot of room for growth and discovery in those directions. But lets for the sake of argument say that our current/old business models were the only ones that could work and if we want art we need to stop infringing on copyrights so artists can afford to be artists. Do we jail all offenders? Do we punish them and keep them from being able to communicate with society? Or do we find a way to convince our consitiutents that they need to come together to fix the problem?

I say constituents because it’s our elected officials that pass these laws to police how we act. These are questions they should be asking, and that we should be making them ask.

And with that I’m lost in my own rant, so I’m done. Feels good to write even if it is dribble.


I took an arm off my chair today so I could use my mouse and keep my arm at a decent level. The left one is for appearences and so I have something to lean on. For a cheap $150 staples chair (*grumble*) the arm rests not lowering enough is my only major gripe. It does pretty good.

Francis 'one' arm

Ray Anderson on the business logic of sustainability

This is a talk from “America’s Greenest CEO”. He’s transformed his petroleum intensive carpet tile company’s business practices into a sustainable business practices. That’s a fancy way to say he’s shifted from taking from the earth to make carpet (which eventually ends up as trash) and started paying attention to the whole cycle of his goods. So there’s less waste, carbon, and martrials. He tasked his company to figure out a way to use sustainable methods to sell, make and recycle carpet. The whole endeavor saved his company from the crash of 2000 and has proven to be quite profitable by design and not just on “green” marketing. (Although I’m sure it helps.)

He strives to be a model for a way to have an industry that doesn’t strip the earth of its resources but keeps control of the entire cycle of it’s goods and byproducts. Of course he does a much better job explaining it. My favorite axiom from the speech is a simple one.

If it exists then it is possible.

Download mp4 in Standard Def (54MB) or HD 480p (195MB)

Is that an antenna in your pocket?

I’m cleaning up some old draft posts that I never wrote out. This one is even more relevant today then when I planned to write it.

I own a dirfwear wallet, and while it isn’t perfect at blocking rfid tags at close range (3-4 inches) its a dam good walet and will stop distance and opportunistic sniffing. Like near a turnstyle or door frame. I met one of the creators at the last hope and played with a machine he had there setup for reading rfid cards at a distance.