"Feedback" about feedback

[From Rick Marken (960731.1030)]

Bruce Abbott (960730.0955 EST) --

If what a person does (a variable), through KR influences what the person
does (the same variable), then there is feedback in the technical sense of
the term. If it doesn't, there isn't. This is true whether or not the
person is trying to control some variable.

Jeff Vancouver (960731.12:30 EST) --

I second the opinion expressed by Bruce.

I think Bruce was saying that KR is a variable in a feedback loop (technical
sense of feedback; KR is a variable that has an effect on itself via the
subject's actions) but that's no reason to call KR "feedback" because the KR
itself is not feedback (technical sense). It seemed to me that Bruce was
saying that because KR is a variable in a feedback loop it should be called
what it is -- a controlled variable.

Is this the opinion you are seconding?

Bruce Gregory (960731.1150 EDT) --

Mary, I'm shocked. The last thing I would think that most athletes want is
someone's opinion about their behavior. They want to win.

But they win by getting the "right" opinion about their behavior. I think
Mary's point was that in order to control for certain goals (like having a
job, getting a promotion, getting a paper published, etc) we have to control
for people's opinion's about our observable behavior. That is, we have to
control for getting certain kinds of KR (or "feedback" in the non-technical
sense). A gymnast controls her own perceptions of her body movements in order
to produce a perception of a rating (like 8.5) from a judge. She does this as
part of the process of controlling other perceptions (principles like "be all
that you can be" and system concepts like "be an Olympian").

There is still _unsolicited_ "feedback" that a person can get even when
they solicit other "feedback"; the gymnast solicits (is controlling for) the
judge's opinion of her gynastic performance but she may not solicit
(control for) the judge's opinion of her choice of mate. So, if the judge
says "8.5 and lose the dork with the long hair" the first part of that
"feedback" is the state of a controlled variable; the second part is a
disturbance to some other variable.

Bruce Gregory (960731.1235 EDT) --

Rick I'm surprised...I can't believe that your professional life wouldn't
look very different if you were controlling for the opinions of others!
Say it isn't so, Rick....

This is why lumping everything together as "feedback" is a big problem. I
control for certain perceptions ("feedback") and not others. Sometimes I do
control for _some_ opinions of _some_ other people, because controlling those
opinions serves higher level goals in me (like getting a job).

I didn't select my professional goals (like getting into PCT) in order to
control the "feedback" I got from other people -- that's true. And my work on
PCT is not shaped by my attempts to get good opinions of my behavior from
people I admire; I hope it's shaped mainly by the results of my modeling and
testing.

But I still care about what _some_ other people say about _some_ of the
things I do. If I didn't care about (control for) anything anyone said about
me I'm sure I'd be a lot happier but I'd also be even more obnoxious than I
am;-)

Best

Rick

[From Bruce Gregory (960731.1445 EDT)]

(Rick Marken 960731.1030)

Me:

>Mary, I'm shocked. The last thing I would think that most athletes want is
>someone's opinion about their behavior. They want to win.

Rick:

But they win by getting the "right" opinion about their behavior.

You're stacking the deck by picking events where the judges
opinions are paramount. Most track and field events, for
example, you win by "crossing the line" before anybody else
does. If you're a real S.O.B., you still win, but you don't get
as many lucrative endorsements.

Mary's point was that in order to control for certain goals (like having a
job, getting a promotion, getting a paper published, etc) we have to control
for people's opinion's about our observable behavior.

True, but less true of athletic performance, which is why I
wondered about Mary's choice of the Olympics.

Me:

>Rick I'm surprised...I can't believe that your professional life wouldn't
>look very different if you were controlling for the opinions of others!
>Say it isn't so, Rick....

Rick:

I didn't select my professional goals (like getting into PCT) in order to
control the "feedback" I got from other people -- that's true. And my work on
PCT is not shaped by my attempts to get good opinions of my behavior from
people I admire; I hope it's shaped mainly by the results of my modeling and
testing.

Thanks for restoring my faith....

But I still care about what _some_ other people say about _some_ of the
things I do. If I didn't care about (control for) anything anyone said about
me I'm sure I'd be a lot happier but I'd also be even more obnoxious than I
am;-)

I have no idea of what you are talking about. I find you as
lovable and cuddly as a teddy bear...

Regards,

Bruce

[from Jeff Vancouver 960731.15:10 EST]

[From Rick Marken (960731.1030)]

Bruce Abbott (960730.0955 EST) --

>If what a person does (a variable), through KR influences what the person
>does (the same variable), then there is feedback in the technical sense of
>the term. If it doesn't, there isn't. This is true whether or not the
>person is trying to control some variable.

Jeff Vancouver (960731.12:30 EST) --

>I second the opinion expressed by Bruce.

I think Bruce was saying that KR is a variable in a feedback loop (technical
sense of feedback; KR is a variable that has an effect on itself via the
subject's actions) but that's no reason to call KR "feedback" because the KR
itself is not feedback (technical sense). It seemed to me that Bruce was
saying that because KR is a variable in a feedback loop it should be called
what it is -- a controlled variable.

Is this the opinion you are seconding?

Yes. Note that is much different from what you were originally saying
about KR (KR is probably a good way to refer to the common understanding
of "feedback"). Recall that you called it disturbance. As a controlled
variable, the information in it reflects both the result of actions
(feedback in the technical sense) _and_ disturbances, which is what I was
trying to say.

So, for what it is worth, I second Bruce's opinion (for the second time).

Later

Jeff

[From Rick Marken (960731.1330)]

Me:

It seemed to me that Bruce was saying that because KR is a variable in a
feedback loop it should be called what it is -- a controlled variable.

Is this the opinion you are seconding?

Jeff Vancouver (960731.15:10 EST) --

Yes. Note that is much different from what you were originally saying
about KR (KR is probably a good way to refer to the common understanding
of "feedback"). Recall that you called it disturbance.

Actually, what I said here did not differ a bit from what I said previously.
I called KR-type "feedback" a "disturbance" when it was a disturbance. KR is
a disturbance when it is _not_ a controlled variable. For example, if you
are not controlling for getting the closing value of IBM stock and I tell you
what it is ("Let me give you some feedback; IBM closed at 90 1/4") the
knowlegde that I give you of this result is either irrelevant to you or it
is a disturbance to something else you are controlling (like the phone
number you were repeating to yourself).

My point is that the word "feedback" is used by psychologists to refer to
what PCT shows to be two different variables; controlled variables and
disturbance variables. This is one reason why the conventional use of the
word "feedback" causes problems for people who are trying to understand the
behavior of feedback control systems.

Best

Rick