Friday, May 14, 2010

Discuss this!

I have categorized discussions in 4 groups

When in the context of a religion, the main goal of a discussion is to reach an already given conclusion. Any valid arguments are discharted if they contradict the given conclusion.
This kind of discussion is often held by religious people such as evangelists (the software kind too) or sales people. It's also the favorite form for drunk people trying to argue that they are not drunk.
Religious discussions also occur if you are too specialized. If the only tool you know how to use is a hammer, you are bound to use a hammer to solve every problem.

These are discussions without a goal. That might sound useless, but it's not that bad at all. It's about questioning your own beliefs.
It's a mind opener. It's about challenging your ideas, getting the big picture.

The scientific discussion is about reducing the complexity of a domain. The conclusions might be inaccurate, but it should result in the optimal solution all things considered. Issues like feasibility and return of investment are handled in these discussions as well as risks. It should be noted that a conclusion concluded today, might me changed tomorrow. Scientific discussions embrace and accept change.

Law is about details. The more the merrier. When you reach the maximum amount of details any human can comprehend, you are about half way there. The downside is that often the big picture and reasoning is lost in the pursuit for details. Although the focus is on details, even the details are sometimes lost in discussions like that. The last man standing is the one with photographic memory and who can stay awake the longest. To succeed in this category I suggest that you give up on any social life and start nit picking on your surroundings. Although there can be a winner in such a discussion, the real looser is the common sense and productivity.
Law is a primal discussion form and we are trained to master it when we have arguments in kindergarten about what is right and wrong and which kid has more candy (milimeterdemokrati).

When it comes to software development, you might have these different discussions at different points of time on your project. The religious discussions occur in the beginning of a project, or when changes to the project occur. Although the religious debate has a high return in the short term, the long term might suffer.
As the philosophical discussion is about challenging your current beliefs, it's great for workshops or when a project is stuck in a dead end.
The scientific discussion is great for decision making on a project. What separates a decision derived from a scientific discussion from a religious discussion is the scope.
The lawful discussion comes into play on a software project when someone feels he's not treated right. The discussion often can't be resolved by the parties involved and a third party is then required.

Let the discussions begin!


  1. Simplicity can be the hardest task to achieve. Categorizing topic driven discussions into four main areas to achieve a kind of simplicity in semantics must have fired some rather hilarious inner thought patterns? Well the reason I respond to this is that I disagree. Before you even can pin point the exact topic you has to agree with your discussion partner/group about a topic. This would probably involve some kind of parliamentary procedure, which both parties should agree too. Therefore a fifth topic is forming here. The topic of agreement. If you agree about the semantics in the topic (lets call it "group") you have a consensus. A consensus is something hard to describe. Like love between humans. And a sixth "group" forms.. Love. The discussion of love, about love and love as a behaviour (some would categorise love as behavioural malfunction)
    As of know two new groups has arisen. Maybe we have a disagreement here, but then we could agree on that. Try this experiment.. (Don't do this at home in front of your better half.. ) Ask your self. Is love Religious? Or is love Philosophical (don't say that to a woman!) or is it Lawful? My point it is neither.. Therefore I have proven you are missing at least one category. Kind regards.

  2. Hi Jake. Isn't consensus of topic the foundation of any discussion? In this post I threw a topic out in the open. By commenting on it, you picked up the topic and started the discussion. There was no negotiation going on. The topic was just a prerequisite for the discussion to begin in the first place.
    If there was no common topic, your comment would not be part of a discussion but merely a diversion to the topic.

    I would definately put Love as a religious discussion form. There are no rational arguments involved. Whatever valid arguments you provide, you can't make me love my children any less.

    I don't claim that I have a found the final categorisation or that you can fit any disgussion or argument into one single category that I defined. You might as well defined categeries that are based on something completely different. Logical vs. illogical etc. My catgorization is just to help me understand my surroundings better.