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#thinking-together
Title
# thinking-together
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Ivan Lugo

01/06/2024, 4:05 PM
Heya internetpeoples ❤️ I’ve spent a long time refining this and brought in “The LLMs” to help craft the tone here, and I think I’ve finally gotten it to a point where I feel like it hits my message and question, and doesn’t assume too much negativity or… doomcalling, heh. Thanks for the time and shared space, as always. --- I’ve despaired when stuck on problems I just couldn’t crack. I’ve also felt the joy of those “aha!” moments when things finally click. We’ve all been there as coders. While documentation and searches can help fill gaps, little replaces another human sitting alongside, guiding with patience earned from experience. In those moments when someone more seasoned gave guidance, I felt hope renewed. How might we foster more of these vital human connections? Key Discussion Points: - Knowledge flows when passion meets patience. I’m grateful for the patient coders who “reached down” to guide me. Let’s discuss barriers hampering these relationships. Generalizations about certain groups being “unwilling” to help are counterproductive. However, empathetic mentorship remains scarce. How might we change incentives? - Truly supporting newcomers requires understanding their frustrations are valid. I want to open a thoughtful discussion on constructive ways we can keep improving in this regard. - There are always exceptions by those dedicated to lifting others up. But much room remains for improving access, channels and incentives for more direct peer sharing across experience levels. It’s on each of us to reflect on where we can have an impact. I welcome reactions, shared experiences, and dialogue toward that aim. How might we strengthen coder communities through human connections? Where do you see the biggest opportunities? Together, I believe we can guide positive change.
As an experiment, here’s the history of how I tried to shape this message, for those curious as to anything I left out: https://chat.openai.com/share/36430388-e4b5-41f7-b630-9936e6415aea
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Jason Morris

01/06/2024, 7:17 PM
I will say that there are two sides to the teacher/student relationship, and for the relationship to be effective, both sides need to exercise skills that are far outside the skills usually associated with coding. As examples the teacher needs to be aware of their own curse of expertise, and find ways to empathise with the student. The student needs to understand chesterton's fence, and assume there are things they don't know... I suspect training, measurement, and incentives aligned with those sorts of skills would help, but it's a guess.
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Jimmy Miller

01/07/2024, 5:40 AM
Thanks for posting this. I can completely relate with where you are coming from and think this is something we need to do better at.
The incentives right now are the same incentives we've defaulted to forever. Money. Money and power. Get paid to mentor, get paid to teach, get paid to {{X}}. It's not enough. It's old thinking. It has to go away. We humans need to understand sooner rather than later that empowering those are going to outlive you is the right thing to do - not the most profitable or selfly-gainful.
I have ideas and hopes. They all rely on 'human empathy', which I just explained is often.. missing. I also understand I have a 'chip'. I personally feel this every minute of every day when I work-for-money or work-for-fun.
I tried doing the paid mentor thing. When I did it, it was originally pitched to me as a company paying me to mentor a Junior engineer. Turns out, the junior people were often paying out of pocket. Even at the time, I told the company I was contracting through, I'd happily do it for free if the people I was "mentoring" were into programming. That was the real problem, no one I talked to actually cared about programming at all. Some had parents who had forced them to do it. Others I couldn't quite tell what the motivation was, perhaps the hopes of easy money? What I really wanted was not the money, but a filter. If you make an open call for being a mentor, sadly the kinds of people that often take you up on it are a bit much. I've offered in the past and had very strange conversations with people (seemingly messaging me when they are high). I want a filter not because I want self-gain, but because I want these conversations to be meaningful. It is hard to find people who are actually a good match. I will say, maybe future of coding is itself a filter? Not sure. If you (anyone not just OP) are reading this and think I could help you, happy to chat and explore that. Inside a company is a bit easier. I've had a number of people that I've worked with in my career that I've helped level up. It's much easier there, because you can basically prescreen them. You can see how they work. You can figure out what level they are at. You can see if you get along as people. They can decide if they want to ask you questions as well. You also aren't taking time of the other obligations you have, this just is one of those obligations. I will say that I've pretty much always been on the mentoring someone else rather than being mentored side. I'm sure some of that is my fault. I am perhaps a bit over confident in my own skill and was especially so earlier in my career.
where's the channel
#of-interns-and-newbies
, or
#of-young-tech-enthusiasts
? These are tighly coupled with the idea, yet we've still fallen victim to the idea of grouping up folks by ideas and geography - we instead have
#of-ai
,
#india
,
#in-atlanta
I'm open to the idea of those channels. I will say, I think #devlog-together would be a good place to post about things you are working on and struggling with. I think one problem with newbie channels is that if no one answers, it can feel even worse. I remember posting in them before. The more specific problem here is that there are too many different technologies people use, so you might not get an answer. Unless the goal is more just to meet other people at a similar stage of career or age as you. I definitely can relate to the lack of geography being meaningful to me. Fairly certain I'm the only one here from the Indianapolis area. Finally, on the meta use of llms, I think your original writeup with some editing was better than what ended up being posted here. The llmified version felt like I was jumping into a conversation that was already ongoing and I lacked context. For example: "Generalizations about certain groups being “unwilling” to help are counterproductive" seems like feedback you got from generalizing about groups, but in the context of the message you hadn't done that. I'd definitely recommend taking your original thoughts, cutting out a bunch and asking questions and expressing frustrations more directly. That's why I quoted from your original message, it was much more clear to me.
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Andrew F

01/08/2024, 7:32 AM
I can confirm Jimmy's impression of "jumping into a conversation". Did I miss something?
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Ivan Lugo

01/08/2024, 4:16 PM
Jimmy, thank you for your response. I’ve been chewing on it for a bit, as often happens when I manage to get a big word wall out my brain, heh. It’s like all the coalesced thoughts finally come out, and I need time to fill up the tank again. I hope nothing came across as offensive or coarse. My descriptions and questions can sometimes come off argumentative or blaming, when my intent is simply to point a light on something I don’t know. Hence the LLM summaries. This has indeed been an interesting experiment so far, heh. So, there’s some great validation here.
That was the real problem, no one I talked to actually cared about programming at all. Some had parents who had forced them to do it. Others I couldn’t quite tell what the motivation was, perhaps the hopes of easy money?
I want a filter not because I want self-gain, but because I want these conversations to be meaningful. It is hard to find people who are actually a good match.
This is some real insight and I connect with it too. The tech bubbles all seem to make “too good to be true” enticing, instead of cautionary. That means I’ve met people that will sit me down at a coffee shop and say they want to learn to program, but it’s for an end goal. An app, website, something like that. The few times I’ve done something direct and it’s worked out is exactly when the little bubble of a community I was in was indeed a self selected filter, I guess. So there’s something there in already being in a community to find people to reach out to, and finding a community that has people that want to be reached.
... I’ve pretty much always been on the mentoring ... I’m sure some of that is my fault. I am perhaps a bit over confident ...
This is another banger. There is an immense amount of pressure on corpo-engineers (startup or otherwise) to be a self maintained, personally growing little automated investment. Ick.. You’re supposed to figure out what problems exist, why they’re problems, what others have done to solve them, and then of course to creatively solve them yourself. The most I’ve really been offered in situations like this is being told to kindly bug some other engineer in the company that ‘owns’ the problem domain, and for them to help you, whatever that means to you and them at the time. That’s incredibly inefficient, right?
I think one problem with newbie channels is that if no one answers, it can feel even worse.
This right here is like the onramp to the isolation-cycle. You’re against a clock. You reach out, but it’s not the right community, so you internalize because you think you’re the problem, or should try harder. So you spend a bunch of time learning a thing from articles and random experimentation and come out the other end feeling a little more ragged from feeling like going it alone. This is the motivation killer. The defeater of pragmatism. For most people I know, myself included, there’s a sudden and oft unexpected wall where I see the problems I’ve been solving from a larger perspective and kinda go... “Yeah ya know what, I might as well just not.” It’s probably too reductive for me to just say “moar channels!” and I hope I didn’t come across like that. I mean heck, I’m remembering when we found our little group of tech-heads and talked for a few hours, and that little conversation was more motivating and uplifting in a sense of community that I have to hope it was more than lightning in a bottle. Community builds community.
The llmified version felt like I was jumping into a conversation that was already ongoing and I lacked context.
Did I miss something?
Man, that’s a fascinating point to me outside of this too.. it made sense to me because I had biased it against my internal dialogue. I hadn’t even considered that the changes in language and sentence structure of course muddled the original context, even though I followed along just fine. I’m gonna chew on this a lot, because there’s a bigger pattern I think to how one can approach summarization within an LLM context… To that, I’m going to edit it down and set it up again. I’ll edit the original message and the leave the summary around for history’s sake.
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Jimmy Miller

01/08/2024, 4:44 PM
What I hope I didn't do is miss the point of the post. I completely get the frustration. I've been there myself. Sadly, I never found that mentor style relationship. I think it is good to be frustrated by that fact that this is systemic. Parasocial fixes aren't the answer. But I do think podcasts giving us access to some of this information is certainly helpful. This is why I love On the Metal and Oxide and Friends. I get to listen to engineers way more experienced than me talk shop. But I want to focus this
I’m remembering when we found our little group of tech-heads and talked for a few hours, and that little conversation was more motivating and uplifting in a sense of community that I have to hope it was more than lightning in a bottle. Community builds community.
I enjoyed that time. And would be definitely up for more. I think the biggest thing these groups need, is the person who just constantly asks to get together. I would not find that annoying at all. People are busy and forget. It's like exercise, until it becomes a habit, you really have to force yourself, even if you enjoy it when doing it. I think slack can be good. But synchronous hangouts are definitely more fun. They just require someone to organize them.