Slashdot recently ran the story of how researchers have pegged some differences in brain function between the supporters of their two political parties. While the story itself is a yawner unless you care about American politics, some commenters grasped the idea and wondered what differences in brain function other groups might show.
It figures that there might be. Our brains evolve and change over time, conditioned to respond to stimuli in different ways depending on our experience. But certain brains with certain thinking patterns also seek out certain kinds of experiences. they affect each other, and over time the thinking patterns of the brain and the situations put in front of it reinforce each other. What you do shapes you, and who you are makes you do more of the same, which shapes you further.
Command lines, for instance. I’ve met command line users who will rattle off a complex string of characters for every situation. Other people cringe at the mention of one. So what shapes that attitude? I would expect that the greatest difference would be found between Linux users and Mac users, with Windows users in between.
Programming, for another. Some people get it, and some people don’t. You can spot one in minutes.
The basic factors of the geek culture. What is it about geeks that draws them to role-playing games, Monty Python humor, and Renaissance Faires? Eric S Raymond tells a spooky story about how he sat down at a Perl conference once with five other programmers, and discovered that four of them practiced martial arts. Kung-Fu and Perl… of course they go together!
Maybe there’s something in the genes, the way tortoise-shell cats are female. To refer to Eric S Raymond again,
“It seems to be the case that the combination of personality traits that makes a hacker so conditions one’s outlook on life that one tends to end up being like other hackers whether one wants to or not.”
…or, are there a set of genes or traits which drive a person equally to adopting the “hacker personality” as well as being a hacker itself?
It would be great fun to snark off about the ways in which the Windows, Mac, and Linux people’s brains would work different, but don’t I get in enough trouble when I do something like that? So how about all of you comment people take a turn? What ways do you think users of different systems would differ?
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