Episode #125 of the Stack Overflow podcast is here. We talk Tilde Club and mechanical keyboards. Listen now
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Turn the conversation into a 2-way learning experience.

Explaining what you do to people without the background is a great learning curve which I recommend to everyone. (Not least because you never know when a conversation with someone in an utterly unrelated field will spark the idea for your next breakthrough).

Usually I deflect or pre-empt the question away from what I'm specifically working on, to some more general point of contact with non-technicalities. The history of the subject is often the easiest thing for non-specialists to engage with. Not surprisingly, this involved me first learning some history of mathematics. (Lakatos, Proofs & Refutations was an excellent eye-opener).

But I also practise explaining one, or two, technical things. In the case of mathematical logic I've tried explaining Cantor's diagonal argument to people; and I've practised using, "This sentence is false" to explain Gödel's incompleteness proof. Last year (studying machine learning) I practised a 90 second-second explanation of deep learning.

Adopting the role of a learner in these conversationconversations can turn them into real conversations for both of you: "Actually I find it really difficult to explain what I'm working on, but if you don't mind being a guinea pig can I try explaining ... to you"?

Finally, I apologise that I cannot resist the Feynmann pseudo-quote: If you can't explain it to a first year, you haven't understood it.

Turn the conversation into a 2-way learning experience.

Explaining what you do to people without the background is a great learning curve which I recommend to everyone. (Not least because you never know when a conversation with someone in an utterly unrelated field will spark the idea for your next breakthrough).

Usually I deflect or pre-empt the question away from what I'm specifically working on, to some more general point of contact with non-technicalities. The history of the subject is often the easiest thing for non-specialists to engage with. Not surprisingly, this involved me first learning some history of mathematics. (Lakatos, Proofs & Refutations was an excellent eye-opener).

But I also practise explaining one, or two, technical things. In the case of mathematical logic I've tried explaining Cantor's diagonal argument to people; and I've practised using, "This sentence is false" to explain Gödel's incompleteness proof. Last year (studying machine learning) I practised a 90 second explanation of deep learning.

Adopting the role of learner in these conversation can turn them into real conversations for both of you: "Actually I find it really difficult to explain what I'm working on, but if you don't mind being a guinea pig can I try explaining ... to you"?

Finally I apologise that I cannot resist the Feynmann pseudo-quote: If you can't explain it to a first year, you haven't understood it.

Turn the conversation into a 2-way learning experience.

Explaining what you do to people without the background is a great learning curve which I recommend to everyone. (Not least because you never know when a conversation with someone in an utterly unrelated field will spark the idea for your next breakthrough).

Usually I deflect or pre-empt the question away from what I'm specifically working on, to some more general point of contact with non-technicalities. The history of the subject is often the easiest thing for non-specialists to engage with. Not surprisingly, this involved me first learning some history of mathematics. (Lakatos, Proofs & Refutations was an excellent eye-opener).

But I also practise explaining one, or two, technical things. In the case of mathematical logic I've tried explaining Cantor's diagonal argument to people; and I've practised using, "This sentence is false" to explain Gödel's incompleteness proof. Last year (studying machine learning) I practised a 90-second explanation of deep learning.

Adopting the role of a learner in these conversations can turn them into real conversations for both of you: "Actually I find it really difficult to explain what I'm working on, but if you don't mind being a guinea pig can I try explaining ... to you"?

Finally, I apologise that I cannot resist the Feynmann pseudo-quote: If you can't explain it to a first year, you haven't understood it.

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source | link

Turn the conversation into a 2-way learning experience.

Explaining what you do to people without the background is a great learning curve which I recommend to everyone. (Not least because you never know when a conversation with someone in an utterly unrelated field will spark the idea for your next breakthrough).

Usually I deflect or pre-empt the question away from what I'm specifically working on, to some more general point of contact with non-technicalities. The history of the subject is often the easiest thing for non-specialists to engage with. Not surprisingly, this involved me first learning some history of mathematics. (Lakatos, Proofs & Refutations was an excellent eye-opener).

But I also practise explaining one, or two, technical things. In the case of mathematical logic I've tried explaining Cantor's diagonal argument to people; and I've practised using, "This sentence is false" to explain Gödel's incompleteness proof. Last year (studying machine learning) I practised a 90 second explanation of deep learning.

Adopting the role of learner in these conversation can turn them into real conversations for both of you: "Actually I find it really difficult to explain what I'm working on, but if you don't mind being a guinea pig can I try explaining ... to you"?

Finally I apologise that I cannot resist the Feynmann pseudo-quote: If you can't explain it to a first year, you haven't understood it.