Thinking aloud…

There’s a theory that human speech, and maybe even human language, evolved in order to bypass the low-bandwidth connection between the two hemispheres of our brains. By speaking aloud, we can get thoughts across the corpus callosum by sending them out of our mouths and in through our ears.

That theory seems entirely plausible to me, because I have tremendous difficulty thinking alone. I often say that I don’t know what I think until I hear myself saying it. Ideas emerge in the middle of sentences, which can often make me sound as if I’m chopping and changing my mind all the time.

All of this means that I have become very reliant on pairing — during programming, design, analysis, planning, everywhen in fact. But sometimes I can’t find someone to pair with, for whatever reason. So I may just start using this blog-thing as a substitute. Expect to read here posts that start in one direction and later veer sharply around as I “hear” what I’ve written. I’ll try not to edit that process out, and let’s see whether the result is coherent or just seems like the ramblings of a manic depressive.

And in the best case, the comments you leave will be my pair partner.

Here goes…

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4 thoughts on “Thinking aloud…

  1. Is there really a theory that speech evolved to get thoughts across the corpus callosum? Not for collaboration with other people then? So talking out loud to yourself should do the trick :-) I can recommend Mary Midgley’s “The Solitary Self” http://bit.ly/esXt8k to raise suspicions of arguments where everything is the way it is because of evolution, especially when applied to individuals rather than groups. And McGilchrist’s “The Master and his Emissary” http://www.iainmcgilchrist.com/brief_description.asp on the role of each hemisphere, their interactions, and its implications for our world.

  2. Maybe I made it up…? Nope, definitely read it somewhere. And yes, speaking to myself does work. As do many other techniques for stepping aside from the problem and looking at it from a third party’s point of view.

  3. I think it’s the act of turning the problem into words that helps.

    If i’m in a distracting environment and working on a thorny bug (and i’m not pairing with someone) i’ll keep a text file where I write down the problem and add a note each time I try something or come up with some useful information. It helps by specifying the problem better but also it means when you are distracted and come back to your work some time later you don’t have to remember what you have already tried and how far you got.

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