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Re: Hackers and Painters and Lawyers and Docs

Brent Fulgham wrote:

 >In the spirit of group support and mutual assistance we all provide 
 >here, I was wondering if I could start pinging you with legal questions
 >related to my nasty neighbor disputing my property line with
 >him?  ;-)
 >(Sorry -- we so rarely hear from outside experts, I just had
 >to play the annoying party-guest.)
 >P.S.  If we could just get a doctor on the list, I could start asking
 >about this pain in my shoulder I get when I move like *this*...

As a long-time lurker (and incidentally an M.D.), allow me to provide 
you with the *definitive* therapy and recommend that you quit moving 
your shoulder like *this*.  That'll be $250.00....and please refrain 
from discussing any complications with the lawyers on the list.

In related fields, many mathematicians are moving in the direction of 
greater personal collaboration, as noted by the recent biographies of 
Paul Erdos and others, but that practice seems not quite "pairs theorem 
proving."  Probably the most interesting recent counterexample to close 
collaboration was the personal process and isolation of Wiles in proving 
Fermat's last theorem.  I wonder if mathematicians, physicists, etc. 
actually routinely get down to the level of "over the shoulder" 
collaboration that XP calls for.

The thread made me reflect on close collaboration in medicine.  Outside 
residency training (the on-the-job, closely supervised training new docs 
get after graduation from medical school) you rarely have another 
physician working that closely with you in solving problems, although 
good physicians call for outside expertise regularly.  The model is that 
one physician "owns" the patient and is responsible for diagnosis and 
care, but has to recognize his/her own limitations and seek help when 
needed.  IMO, diagnosis and treatment and physician education all 
improve (and medical errors decrease) as very close collaboration 
increases.  Probably medicine isn't the best analogy for the creative 
process of solving problems in computer science, but the 
mission-critical aspects seem similar. And debugging humans has a 
certain fascination, although one longs for backtraces and breakpoints.