This presentation is one that I did for an organization I was a part of during college. Looking back, this is probably the first time this phrase clicked in my brain:

People problems are the hardest engineering problems

From the first time that phrase entered into my head, it has ricocheted against the inside of my skull every single day. In computer science, problems are relatively easy to solve because the only thing you have to convince is a compiler. I am not (nor would I ever claim to be) a sociologist, but nonetheless feel safe in stating that people are not compilers. People have opinions. People have motivations. To work together, to have systems, to make any progress as a society, people have to agree on things.

Never forget - the best side of the road to drive on is the side everybody else has agreed to drive on. When it comes to people problems, consensus is king.

I’d imagine that the vast majority of you are people, like me, whose professional reputations to not precede you. As fellow members of the proletariat who fall outside of the LinkedIn-influencer and TED-talk alumni elite, we don’t have a whole lot of ethos on which to make our arguments for why people should agree with an idea. I don’t think that’s a huge deal (although golly gee, wouldn’t it be nice to have authority on matters?). It does mean, though, that turning an idea into consensus has to rely on logic and vibes.

To that end, I do think that using what I’d describe as “soft” quantitative frameworks for largely qualitative (read: vibes) properties of things is a good way to bring pathos and logos together. In the above presentation, using distance from other locations is not necessarily a catch-all description for the causes of many of the above problems, but it was a good rule-of-thumb.