Monday, April 12, 2010

Beware, the "Imperius curse"

          Today, I learnt something. And, it was a bitter experience too.. I used to think rationally. And, so the story happened a few weeks back when my class had to choose electives for the VII semester and I had to get the collective opinion.
          I conducted an elaborate poll taking a piece of paper and noting down the choices for all 63(including myself) people, by putting a neutral cap on my head in efforts to make it an unbiased poll. After a week, this process was complete and I arrived at a list of papers that gained the maximum number of votes.
          At numero uno was the "Total Quality Management" which was a theory oriented paper and which my friends considered an easier paper to clear(I personally dislike what-you-call a theory paper).
          At number two was "Cryptography & Network Security", which imparts *basic* knowledge of encryption and decryption.
          And then the confusion. At numbers three and four are "TCP/IP Design and Implementation" and "C# and .NET framework" out of which we needed to select one. As I'm quite comfortable with Programming, I preferred C# to TCP/IP(which is again, an easy-to-clear paper). Those who chose C# were my fellow cse students who found a momentum to learn a language than to study theory. And, the interesting thing was that, the choice between TCP/IP and C#.NET was almost disjoint. So, it occurred to me that we needed to split the batch into two, one half studying theory to clear the paper, the other half studying C#.NET and get more software knowledge.
          I spoke with the HOD today, who resisted initially, but agreed to split the batch after finding the statistics. I was asked to get the signatures of all students under the batch they want to be in. My fellow Class Representative, who is not so amiable person when it comes to a disagreement, wanted "Information Security"(which was 5th favourite in the poll conducted weeks before) because one staff has mentioned(not directly to her but through students) it as a Easy-to-clear paper and a theory paper.
          So she took off TCP/IP and replaced it with "Information Security" in the choices. After a little conversation("you want to clear the paper or what?") and advice, almost all the students went with choosing Information Security. I ended up in the side that included just 4 others like me. The whole idea of separate batches was dropped. In the end, I felt like I just lost a chess match.
          Why did I feel so? Did I really lose something, I cannot find. But I learnt something valuable:
  • I learnt that people's decisions can be influenced pretty much easily. If I knew this before, I could've saved a week's time by not conducting all this poll.
  • I learnt that representing for people who can change their decisions in two weeks time can land you up in writing a sad blog post.