roytang.net Posts Photos Archives About

We used to attend these online quiz nights where at the top of the quiz, the host would do his introductory spiel explaining how the quiz night works. This is typical of quiz nights. But this quiz group in particular always had a semi-complicated final round where each team makes a wager against how many answers you can get in the final question which has multiple answers. They introduce this mechanic during the intro spiel, and at the end of the night, if there are any new teams during the quiz, they will inevitably raise a question or two that were already covered in the intro spiel.

It's a problem of the information being presented too early and at a time when it isn't relevant (during the intro spiel) instead of when you need it. They would have been better served explaining the mechanic right before the final round, when the teams are already more invested in the quiz and more likely to pay attention. And at that point, the relevant audience becomes smaller (since not all teams will have been in contention for winning), so the chances of nuance being lost are reduced! As a bonus, it would have made the intro spiel significantly shorter and got the quiz going earlier!

This is the principle of "Just in Time" communication, where it is better to present information at the time it is most relevant.


This can be relevant to just about any situation where there is a large amount of information to go through, but all of it is immediately relevant. Another good example would be in videogame tutorials for complex games like Civilization; where instead of explaining everything all at the start, you can stagger the information so that the more advanced mechanics are only explained later on when the player needs to cross that bridge.

Mark Brown covers this in his Youtube video "How to teach complex games"


There is a similar principle in software development, where programmers are encouraged to "declare variables as close to their usage as possible". The advantages are mainly in terms of readability (always an important factor when writing code!), since this makes it easier for the reader to understand the variables in context.

Thu, Feb. 3, 2022, midnight / / blog / #communication #software-development / Syndicated: mastodon twitter / 372 words

Last modified at: Feb. 3, 2022, 1:35 a.m. Source file