Meditating, Higher Consciousness, Situation Awareness, Seeing Things in Data Centers most miss

I had one of my local high tech friends come by for an afternoon chat.  It was the first time he had come over, and we spent a couple of quiet hours discussing all kinds of topics including data centers.  My friend appreciated the Zen and quiet time I get working from home.  Whenever someone suggests travel, I try to figure out how I can skip the plane flight. :-)

The next day I got up in the morning, and started writing.


This is the view to the south at the same time the sun was rising above.


As the evening was approaching, and the moon was almost full. I was using the quiet time to meditate, and try some higher consciousness exercises.

The concept of higher consciousness rests on the belief that the average, ordinary human being is only partially conscious due to the character of the untrained mind and the influence of 'lower' impulses and preoccupations. As a result, most humans are considered to be asleep (to reality) even as they go about their daily business.


As the night progressed, I decided to have my own outdoor movie and brought out my laptop to stream a Netflix movie, "The Sensei"


A Different Kind of Martial Arts Film: D. Lee Inosanto’s ‘The Sensei’ battles prejudice and homophobia in 1980s small town in Colorado

If there’s one thing D. Lee Inosanto is no stranger to, it’s martial arts. Her father is martial arts legend Dan Inosanto, her godfather was the late Bruce Lee (whom she refers to simply as “Uncle Bruce”), and Inosanto herself is a highly trained martial artist who has worked as a stunt person on projects from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Face/Off.


Then the next morning it hit the connection between the method of higher consciousness and situation awareness.

Situation awareness, or SA, is the perception of environmental elements within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the near future. It is also a field of study concerned with perception of the environment critical to decision-makers in complex, dynamic areas from aviation, air traffic control, power plant operations, military command and control, and emergency services such as fire fighting and policing; to more ordinary but nevertheless complex tasks such as driving an automobile or motorcycle.

Situation awareness (SA) involves being aware of what is happening around you to understand how information, events, and your own actions will impact your goals and objectives, both now and in the near future. Lacking SA or having inadequate SA has been identified as one of the primary factors in accidents attributed to human error (e.g., Hartel, Smith, & Prince, 1991; Merket, Bergondy, & Cuevas-Mesa, 1997; Nullmeyer, Stella, Montijo, & Harden, 2005). Thus, SA is especially important in work domains where the information flow can be quite high and poor decisions may lead to serious consequences (e.g., piloting an airplane, functioning as a soldier, or treating critically ill or injured patients).

There are some people I am working with to apply the ideas of situation awareness (a higher level of consciousness) to the data center.  Here is a situation awareness demo using Geographic Information System (GIS) information from ESRI.

Part of the fun things I am working on is with people who have a situation awareness, a higher level of consciousness of what is going on data centers.  The challenge we have is discussing things we discover with people "who don't know what they don't know."

A Chinese Proverb states.

He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool...shun him.

He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is willing...teach him.

He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep...awaken him.

He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise...follow him.

How many data center errors/mistakes could be prevented if systems and methods are set up to support a situational awareness.  A consciousness of what what is going on.

Eric Gallant, a Lee Tech employee commented on this concept.

Eric Gallant said...

Excellent thought Dave. Prior to getting into the data center industry, I operated nuclear power plants for the Navy. After countless hours standing watch in the engine room, my senses became tuned to the environment. I could recognize a change in the pitch of a steam turbine, detect the slightest hint of acrid odor from a switchgear section and identify suspicious vibrations in the deck plates through the soles of my boots. My analog senses were often more useful than the abundant digital meters and detectors that monitored plant conditions.
The same phenomenon can be found in experienced data center professionals. I’ve seen data center operators sprint from their offices before the first alarm sounds because of a barely perceptible change in the quality of the light. I’ve even seen an engineer diagnose a bad CRAH shaft bearing by pressing his forehead against the front of the running machine.
As a managers and engineers we focus on metrics. As the old saw goes, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” And a good deal of engineering is knowing how, what and why to measure. Perhaps we focus on the measurable and quantifiable to the detriment of our more visceral abilities.