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Danny O'Brien: Question on geeks and games

Danny & Merlin As you may know, Danny O’Brien and I are rumored to be working on a book for O’Reilly’s Hacks series. As we theoretically toil with this theoretical book, we’ll be lazily turning to you smart people from time to time to save our bacon. This is the first of those occasions.

Thus, Danny asks…

So one of the things that’s cropping up in the research is that geeks hate boredom more than other people: indeed, more than life itself. The whole “rather gnaw your own arm off??? is frightening close to reality here.

Given the choice between a fractionally tedious task that will save hours of effort, and something capitivating and challenging, we’ll bunk off the former.

I don’t know yet whether that’s not something that’s applicable to other people. But I am interested in linking this up with another bit of anecdata, which is that geeks often enjoy thought games and puzzles.

So, here’s my question: when you have a regular, mind-crushingly dull task to do, do you have a little game you play with yourself to make it easier? If so, what is it?

(Merlin reminds me to include the canonical Simpsons reference in this discussion:)

Bart makes a game of it Principal Skinner: Oh, licking envelopes can be fun! All you have to do is make a game of it.

Bart: What kind of game?

Principal Skinner: Well, for example, you could see how many you could lick in an hour, then try to break that record.

Bart: Sounds like a pretty crappy game to me.

Principal Skinner: Yes, well… Get started.

William D. Neumann's picture

Well. I can't say I...

Well. I can't say I do it for distractions from work type tasks, but I often do little things to distract me from the tedium when I'm on a long drive (which happens a lot). I'll usually do something like estimate the number of nickels it would take to make a stack that would reach the moon, check the calibration of my speedometer against my watch and the highway mileage signs, or try to match the numbers on trucks and license plates to old players from the Cleveland Browns (Hey! There goes Brian Brennan and Thom Darden...).

And Josh: This Thich Nhat Hanh is nuts. Washing dishes always sucks and is never time worth living. Unless, of course, the only other option is weeding...




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