Import This


Trevor Tomesh on Computer/Human Interaction, Jung, &c.!

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

I'm finishing up my PhD here at the University of Regina.

Whoo Boy, that's a big question.

Um, let's just say it's a

systems theory, I guess would be the

one word or two words. Yeah, so systems theory.

On systems theory is applied to interactive hardware, specifically stuff to do with, like Arduino and DIY hobbyist electronics.

How's that being evaluated? Well, it's a sort of theoretical field. So essentially, I'm taking some really really old math from the 1940s.

And trying to bring it up to speed with other contemporary ideas, especially pertaining to the maker movement was actually

Yeah, no worries. Um, well, back in the 1940s, there was this movement to take all of the different disciplines and unite them under one banner, and they were calling that general systems theory. And so the idea is that you can take

the grand unified, yeah, the grand unified theory.

A kind of in a way yeah, that well, the grand unified theory in physics, I actually have a bachelor's degree in physics. The grand unified theory of physics was trying to unite quantum mechanics in general relativity. Now, General systems theory was actually founded by a biologist by the name of Ludwig von Berg handling fee and

His idea was that

you could potentially describe biological, physical, chemical electronic systems all using the same type of language. And so back in the 90s Yeah, well, so back in the 1940s and 1950s they started fiddling around that this idea

it's exactly that.

Yeah, it's uh, it's uh

huh, yeah, well in its kind of, so you have in computer science, which my PhD work is, that's the what will be my PhD here in a few months. But in computer science, you have kind of like two disparate sorts of fields, looking at how people and non computer systems interact with computers and those two are cybernetics and human computer interaction.

And human computer interaction that looks at interactions with machines as almost human conversations. But cybernetics takes the other approach and it says, Okay, well let's look at humans as if they work computers and systems theory kind of bridges. Systems Theory kind of bridges the gap between the two by saying no, let's look at everything like it's a system.

I am trying to

you yeah, essentially take that third stance that if we look at everything as if it's a system,

meet in the middle, somewhere between machine and man, then we can potentially

break through with all sorts of, well, essentially new philosophies and new ways of looking and designing things.



Yeah, that's no that's, that's exactly it.

Exactly. And I've never been one to, like just take a very specific problem and say, I'm going to learn more about this very specific problem and then come up with a superficial answer. I've always been someone who has to drill down to the very core of what makes a discipline tick and then work from there, which is a huge pain in the ass for me, but

I'm not quite sure exactly what do you mean by that?

No, that's okay. That's okay.

No worries. I know I think I think I understand what you're saying. The way that we look at things. Yeah, I think well, that's the most important thing or not the most important thing but that isn't an important thing is

That first you get your definition straight. And one of the problems with systems theory is you have sort of two different areas of systems. There you have the early systems theorists which their work was in trying to define systems using mathematical models like using set theory, and then the later system, and then the later systems theorists are more like experimentalists, and the experimentalists, they take a look at inputs and outputs, and then reverse engineer the system, kind of the black box method of engineering. And so my work fits in sort of in between them, trying to bridge the gap. And that involves being very careful about definitions, because there's a misunderstanding between what we meant by systems and what we know mean by systems, at least in my estimation.

Nope, this is a this is

This is all just set theory. So it's not even. There's like no programming involved in that.

And, yep.

How does this relate to that? Well, my actual PhD, has very little programming in it. So the PhD thesis

other than the demonstrator here in there, doesn't use a whole lot of Python. However, I use Python a lot in what I do mostly, which is teaching. I spend most of my time as a session, a lecturer and teaching three, three different classes this semester. And then I have to over this. Yeah, and I use Python a lot for that.


Yeah, why? Yeah, why don't

teaching a it's all CS classes currently and teaching an 800 level class let's graduate students, some teaching a grad level course currently on,

on what is it interactive hardware, which doesn't really involve much Python, I'm teaching to undergraduate courses as well. One of those is interactive simulation methods, which is all done in Python.

And then I'm teaching another course on Unity game development, which of course is done in C sharp but

But currently, I'm working on developing a couple of new courses, one on information theory and another one on data acquisition and analysis from the internet. And both of those are

both of those are using Python. Those are both grad classes that I'm teaching over the summer.

Information about information. I like it. That's meta.

Yeah, information theory. Well, information theory is kind of this old branch of science that originated with Claude Shannon, back in the 1940s 1950s,

when they were starting to think about, rather than the universe as an analog place. They're certainly think about the universe as a digital place as opposed to the way that we've traditionally thought of it. And so the idea behind information theory is that pretty much everything can be described in terms of yes or no questions. So, for example, you can ask the question.

Yeah, well, every question. So the definition of information is the resolution of uncertainty. And the way that we resolve uncertainty is by asking yes or no question and

You can ask question like, Is it warm out today? And the answer would be yes or no. But of course, implicit within that you have to define Well, what do you mean by warm? And so you'd have to get specific. Is it greater than 30 degrees Celsius today?

And then yeah, and then the question the answer that question would be today, no, here in Canada, or here in Regina know, so it wouldn't be warm today. So that's the answer of yes or no question. And of course, when you have a yes



I'm drawing a blank there


know I'm I'm mostly

most of my programming is done in Python so i i think i think you're right though I think you're I think you're on the right track though.

I physics background Yeah. Oh well in Math Math was my minor

Yeah, you can see that

huh? Yeah, math is


mental math is math is the language by which the

math is the language by which the universe is governed. And physics is the result of that governments I suppose you could say.


hmm yeah, that would be

you probably thinking of

Gosh, what's his name?

throughout Ragnar rum which means calculating space, trying to think of his name

That sounds kind of like



well the concept of information sorry the concept of information actually in, in


Like Shannon's Shannon, Shannon systems that aren't sorry Stratton's information theory

is almost a physical rather than in a subjective thing, you can measure it.

Well, no, I don't necessarily say that. I mean,

there are certain things that

you want to get metaphysical about things. There are certain conclusions that you can draw, I suppose, from thinking about the universe in terms of both information and systems. And if you want to take that extrapolate that and apply that towards

More Episodes


Erin X. O'Connell on PyCon 2019 and PyColorado!

Follow Erin on Twitter: Sign-up for DigitalOcean ($100 credit!): Hello everyone and welcome to import this a podcast for humans. This is episode I'm not actually sure we're not keeping track anymore. But today I am joined by my wonderful friend Aaron x O'Connell, who have been really good friends with since 2007. Actually, we went to college together. Yeah. George Mason University. Right, Aaron? Yeah, it's true. We went to college together and drop down together. Well, actually, yeah, around the same time. And we're both successful now. So doesn't matter. E Erin X. O'Connell 0:30 Well, success can be measured in adult, various number of ways. I was talking to someone about that the other day, actually. And they told me that success is it wasn't happiness, it was a fulfillment. They had a really good way of putting it I have to remember. 0:47 Also think about that one actually. There's many ways to measure success and I think that's something that that is worth dwelling on. 0:57 Yeah, but But anyway, 1:00 Aaron is known for many things, including helping organize pi Colorado at the moment. She's also working for occipital, which is an excellent company, which I'm sure she can tell us a little bit about. 1:15 Yeah, definitely. So 1:18 yeah, I am working with PI Colorado right now. We're trying to organize our conferences in September. I'm currently I am working on Code of Conduct stuff, response stuff, and also swag. So I'm trying to get some cool, cool stuff there. We have a lot of cool companies in Colorado that are local to Boulder 2:00 Remember the exact wording but was basically treat others with respectfulness and professionalism. And if anyone does otherwise contact us immediately. 2:11 Basically, the code of conduct, 2:14 conduct 2:16 is intended to provide a safe space and make people feel comfortable. And that's why it's there. It's not there to police people, it's there to enable people who would otherwise not feel comfortable coming to feel comfortable coming. Is that a correct understanding? 2:33 Well, the Code of Conduct is a little more than that. It is a set of rules. You know, we don't want to be policing people. But we do need to do that, to an extent. The Code of Conduct is also a response guideline. So it's a set of, yes, it's a set of incident response that we have to take. So you know, if you make a code of conduct violation, then I'm also on the team that responds to that. 3:00 Those types of things and so, you know, the Code of Conduct violation does based I mean if you boil it down it does basically say, you know, be nice to each other and and you know, be respectful and things like that. But the whole the whole other part documents the whole process right and that's the important part is that there's transparency and the process. Yeah, so the process you know, 3:21 we do say what we're going to do the PSS actually put us through a training to do this. So we went through a training where we you know, were paired off and we actually were incident responders and incident reporters and we went through the whole process and you know, documented it and you know, made sure that we felt comfortable doing that so itself, Natalie was one of the SF it's wonderful that the PSS provides that that's not a cheap training, I'm sure. No, I don't think so. And it was actually it was really cool. We got to meet a lot of people from other conferences. People from 4:00 pie a new or pie Australia where there and pie cascades pie Colorado. Me to chris chris number? 4:13 I don't know. I'm not sure I'll have to get her on the show these people from each thing could do it. He's the traditional organizer in my mind of Python a I've been there twice and Keynote at once or maybe twice author on it wasn't it was