Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Actually, last semester, I tried to connect what we've written in the weekly post but obviously, based on your responses in class, I did not do it in the right way. For me, puttering can be the result of concentrating on doing certain things such as trying to win a better chess player. By paying all my attention on the chess game, I could come out with some really smart moves to earn some advantages. Also, puttering could be my purpose of doing certain things, for example, sudoku. I did it not for fun, in stead, I think it could help me concentrate. It is like turning on the concentration mode of my mind and I can keep that mode on for some time. I really like to do some sudoku to help me concentrate before I took my math test in middle school.  Unfortunately, I did not puttering a lot in my university life in Champaign. When I was at my former university in China, I think I puttered a lot for both my courses work and club activities. The reason is quite simple, I do not have that much school work in China and I have time to putter. If I putter on something not related to my school work and career plan for a considerable amount of time, I am fine with that. But during the first year in Champaign, I noticed that most of my friends were working by a very specific plan and they did not like to waste any time irrelevant to their goals. I started to become a follower and studied and worked like that. I made checklist for myself everyday and my life was all about finishing things on the checklist. I think what I get most from our discussion is I should dig deeper on things I find important and useful, not just finishing the checklist and coming out with a resume looks good but not that meaningful. The talk with David confirmed my thinking on puttering as well. What he thought about education is not only about puttering but knowing how to apply what you learnt to the real world situation. That is why I think I enjoyed project more than homework because it provides a quite open question that encourages us to dig deeper and deeper. 

In the second paragraph, I want to talk about an interesting article I read. It is in Chinese, so I will try to write down its idea with my words. This article compares studying with playing video games and explains why video games can attract so many people. First of all is that video games are designed to make you feel that it is controllable. In other words, video games will give immediate feedback to all your instructions in numbers or pictures. For example, every time you kill an enemy in the game, the golden coins will jump out, the experiences you earned will show in numbers. I noticed that the close button in the elevator of US does not work at all since every time I press it, I have to wait exact the same time if I did not press it. But the engineer decided to include it in the elevator to make people feel it controllable. Second feature is that video games give you the motivation to keep playing every ten minutes. You can always find next task available when you finish a task. You can always notice there are so many things to do to improve your weapon or get to the next level. You can always find your friend log on when you decided to log off and get some sleep. I think this article interesting because as human beings, we may want to putter in this way. There is a real world example of puttering to science journal Nature.


  1. This is from dictionary.com on the meaning of putter.

    verb (used without object)
    1. to busy or occupy oneself in a leisurely, casual, or ineffective manner:
    to putter in the garden.
    2. to move or go in a specified manner with ineffective action or little energy or purpose:
    to putter about the house on a rainy day.
    3. to move or go slowly or aimlessly; loiter.

    So, here are two thoughts I'd like you to consider. First, why would I encourage you to spend your time where you mind has little purpose and proceeds in a leisurely fashion rather than in an intense and deliberate way? Second, are your examples fitting the definition of puttering or not?

    For the time being, I will not answer those questions. You should try to do that, as should Nicole and David. Lets see if all of you can putter a little on why it might be a good thing to be doing.

  2. I feel the puttering is not necessarily an ineffective thing. It might not directly related to the task you're doing right now. While, like sudoku, it might make you calm down or help you get prepared before the exam. It can be a waste of time when people don't have a specific studying or working curriculum (or goal) , because people are using puttering as a way to avoid working. In that case, puttering can never be an enlightenment. As you mentioned about the experience in China, the puttering may give opportunities for you to make new friends, play sports, etc. People tend to putter when they're bored. Being bored seems dangerous to me because that implies one doesn't have any studying, working, or hobbies that could motivate people to do. In that case, puttering is a way to avoid the feeling of being bored. However, for people who have their goals and interests in life, sometimes puttering is necessary for them to have a rest. In the long term it might intrigues creativity and higher efficiency ultimately. So the influence of puttering really depends on individual. For these two weeks, I've overwhelmed with homework, midterms, and lab reports. When I spend some time playing guitar and puttering for a while during my studying time, I feel refreshed and more energetic.