The cure for frustration?

From Greg Williams (921222)

Bill Powers (921222.0800)

Unfortunately, all the real experimental investigation of control
behavior is being done by a small handful of people with no
funding or assistance, who are either retired and decrepit or
working full time at something else to make a living.
The timetable depends, therefore, on the person-hours available
and the facilities for doing the research, including availability
of human subjects. As long as the list of people actually
devising and carrying out experiments and modeling is limited to
Rick Marken, Tom Bourbon, and me, the queue of possible
experiments with HPCT is going to grow while the actual work done
trudges along at a slow pace.
When I last looked, there were 132 subscribers to this list.
Permit me a moment of impatience: when are some of you people
going to get out of your armchairs?

I suppose that most of us are either retired and decrepit or working full time
at something else to make a living, AND ALSO (instead of doing PCT
experiments) doing other things we think are more important TO US than doing
PCT experiments. All of that needn't prevent some of us from suggesting
possible PCT experiments to you and Rick and Tom; you might not have thought
of doing them, and, on occasion, you might actually decide to give them higher
priority FOR YOU than the experiments (and other PCT-related activities)
you've been working on. My notion in suggesting step-tracking modeling by you
was that it would be interesting to see how general the (low-error) continuous
tracking model is, and that you and Tom are the ones who are set up to do it
(with software and hardware -- I don't even have a working joystick right now
-- my kids are primo joystick torturers). Maybe more netters would be moved to
become experimenters if they could get the tracking software you use from you
or Tom (that would save them a LOT of development time). Maybe you could even
give a higher priority to preparing a tracking experiment lab kit for
students. If I had a "plug-and-play" tracking lab, I'd know I'd buy a new
joystick. So here's a middle way: you and/or Tom come up with a "tracking
experiments for nonprogrammers" disk, and I bet several of us will get out of
our armchairs. Scolding us isn't a sufficient influence to make ANY of us
learn C or Pascal, I'll bet.

As ever,


From Tom Bourbon (921222 13:58 CST) --

Greg Williams (921222) gave his reasons for not performing experiments
and modeling to test his ideas in PCT. I can hardly believe that he
would consider the roof over his family's head (literally) more important
than sitting down to a weekend ofprogramming in Pascal or C! Still,
Bill's point is well taken: Far too few of us are engaged in the experimental
science side of PCT. Bill listed three, and by my own admission I am the
least accomplished programmer in the lot. If three more people begin working
on experiments and modeling, I will immediately fall to sixth on the chart.

But I remember the day when, without Bill saying a word to me, I realized
I had spent a year or more asking him to do things for me -- tweek a program
here, add a condition there, and so on. I took some of the source code he so
generously gives away, printed it out, spread it across the floor of my
lab and started to learn. Of course, I was doing it all backwards, but even
that clumsy approach has let me do SOME of the things I want to do with PCT.

As Greg says, most people are busy doing what sems most important to them.
So am I. It is just that when I got off of my duff and started hacking
away at my code, the things that seem most important to me began to change.

Like it or not, unless more people become active in experimental work on
PCT, all of the discussions and hand wringing in the world, over how to
present PCT more effectively, will lead to nothing. That is not meant as
a harangue -- just the facts.

Until later,
  Tom Bourbon