Human neural networks in geocomputing

Human neural networks in geocomputing

Despite our ability to solve complex problems via computers and logic, we are humans and thus subject to the whims of our cognitions. Unfortunately, the human aspect of work is often ignored when considering how to best do something. Humans are nuanced and frequently running a lot of programs at once in our brains that all consume our precious attention, and managing this can be difficult. Below are several realizations that have helped me navigate my workload and focus my attention.

Five tips for humans:

  • Use thinking skills that feel abstract to you. If you’re having a hard time visualizing something, draw it. Data structures and programmatic anatomy can be drawn as a schematic in order to access spatial reasoning skills that may help you solve the problem.

  • Recognize stagnation when it occurs and ask for help. Before you ask for help, compose your question in detail, which in itself may offer insight. If you gained no insight from formulating the question, ask it. Programming is problem solving. Don’t get stuck in your preferred way of thinking, and don’t hesitate to seek the input of others who may approach the problem in a new way.

  • Be present. Turn off music and notifications to minimize distractions. If you need to drown out distracting background noise, try white noise or the sound of rainfall. Set a mental intention and complete that task. Jumping from incomplete task to incomplete task generates attention residue, which are thoughts focused on your previous task that persist after you have moved on to a new task.

  • Pay attention to the forest and the trees. The vision for a project and the path of code to get you there are both important, so periodically check in on each to ensure that you’re on track to accomplish both near- and long-term goals.

  • Mind your mood. Tasks that require attention can be significantly more difficult to complete when your body or mind are not feeling well. Without the proper amount of sleep, nutrition, and activity human neural networks function less effectively. The first step to controling your mood is to treat its vessel with care (you probably already have a good intuition for how you should be treating your body). I/O management is important in humans and geocomputing. To fully conquer your mood, learn to identify unfavorable automatic thoughts and replace them with cognitions that serve your goal.

We are products of our cognitions, however you do not need to float atop your thoughts like a vessel stranded in stormy waters. Tend your mind well, and more efficient geocomputing will follow. Five general tips that I wish my past self would have adopted sooner are below.

Five general geocomputing tips:

  • Fix problems in your code as they arise, rather than letting them (and your memory of them) fester.

  • Utilize pseudocode when you have an idea but not the resources to build code.

  • Get comfortable with documentation. help() and dir() functions [Python] are built to increase productivity.

  • Use the enumerate() function [Python] to keep track of non-counting indexes in loops. This is most relevant for individuals making the jump to Python from languages like Java and MATLAB in which counting loops are commonly used.

  • Frequently learn about functions and packages that are new to you to improve your language fluency (e.g. and for Python).

In summary, keep your workflow agile, active, and well-documented, and don’t ignore the human aspect of geocomputing.