Bad With Faces, Good With Names [en]

[fr] Je suis très peu physionomiste mais dès qu'on me donne un nom, je sais exactement qui vous êtes. Pensez-y la prochaine fois qu'on se croise en vitesse quelque part, à une conférence par exemple!

I have a problem. I am really bad at recognizing faces. Really very bad. Bordering on hopeless.

This makes social occasions like conferences very difficult for me, because people keep coming up to me, saying hello, and though their face might seem familiar, I have not the slightest idea who they are.

Even with people I know, it’s sometimes difficult. My good friend Kevin Marks came up to me to say hi this morning, and it took me 4 excruciatingly long seconds to recognize him.

One might think that it’s because I meet too many people, or have too many people in my network, and can’t keep up. I’m happy to say it isn’t the case — I haven’t reached such a celeb status, luckily.

How do I know that?

I know that because the moment the person who just walked up to me gives me their name, I know exactly who they are.

I am deadly good with names.

That’s why I like conference badges.

The way I explain this to myself is that my “internal database” of people I know has an index on the name column, and not the face one. It’s as if I were “colour-blind to faces”.

I’m really good at remembering people, actually. I just need names.

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Writing: Desired Distraction [en]

[fr] Quand j'écris, j'ai besoin de m'interrompre, écrire un bout, repartir, revenir... De temps en temps je suis "avalée" par le processus d'écriture pendant un bon bout de temps, mais la plupart du temps le processus est bien plus fragmenté. Dès que les mots cessent de couler de mon clavier, je file vite quelques minutes faire autre chose. Je pense que mon cerveau travaille en tâche de fond pour préparer ce que je vais dire ensuite.

A topic I’m very sensitive to is multi-tasking. I stand somewhere in between the multitasking fanatics and those who point to it as the worst evil computers have brought us.

I’m very much aware of the benefits of the flow state, and how interruptions (what multitasking is all about) jerk you out of it. I’m convinced, though, that smooth and steady multitasking can in itself be an activity which can bring about a flow state (guess this would have to be demonstrated).

There are a certain number of things I have done to decrease interruptions in my daily activities: turn off e-mail (and other) notifications to almost nothing, put GMail in a different application than my browser, for example.

One activity during which I realised that I actively multitasked is when I’m writing. I write a bit, chat a bit, write a bit, fool around on the web a bit, write a bit, e-mail a bit… Every now and again I get sucked up and write-write-write, diving deep into it and coming out an hour later, but most of the time my writing process is more fragmented.

I realized that my brain needs the “off-time” between spurts of writing. Probably while I’m chatting or looking at my e-mail, my brain is preparing what I’ll write next in the background. When the words stop flowing to my fingers, I don’t stop and think hard to try to figure out what to say. I head out and come back a few minutes later. Sometimes I do this two or three times before I actually start writing again.

Basically, being distracted (or distracting myself) helps me write.

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