I think that the notion of a "project" is one of the fundamental cognitive advances of mankind.  It is a kind of social signal from an individual or small group to a larger community that a problem can be and will be solved.  It's a framework for negotiating the scope of the problem and how it relates to other problems and solutions used by the community.

Related idea – planning

  • First off, what do I mean by a project? It's a problem-solving methodology

    • other problem solving methodologies
      • react to the situation at hand
      • avoid, focus on something else
    • compare/contrast
      • project requires somewhat predictable environment. No sense anticipating, planning, using already known techniques if environment will be changing the ground rules.
      • project is for longer duration. For me, longer than my attention span. Essense of project is a written plan that I return to to update status and look at next steps.
      • project is signifier of intent. You sink time and effort into the project plan, you're less likely to drop it and chase after another shiny object. This is a personal failing. I'm pretty good at coming up with things to think about, not so good at thinking them through and coming to (and stating, and refining based on feedback) a conclusion about it. Come to think of it, that's what this blog is for!
        Project is deliberative, analytical, organized, planned. Compare with jumping into the pool: when you get there, you'll find out whether you can swim. [[need good analogy]]
  • applications of the project methodology

    • What kinds of problems can you solve with a well-executed project? Just technical / scientific / engineering / academic?
      • Certainly a project is an appropriate methodology for problems in technology, because this is a whole world built by man. Every component is an artifact, built by man and capable of being understood by man. Different men, not all men and not necessarily all understandable by one man. please read all gender references as gender-neutral
  • identifying and scoping the project

    • after blue-sky mulling over a situation, next step is, "what are you prepared to do about it?"
    • understand the relationship of your project to existing solutions, current state of the art.
      Are you solving a new problem? improving on an existing solution? generalizing? specializing? How does your proposed solution stand in relation to all the other techniques and solutions already out there?
    • Identify the edges, what will you tackle, what ignore?
    • Research current state of the art.
  • executing the project

    • reaffirm your committment to the work
    • helps answer the question, "what should I do {next, today}?"
    • depends on a written or otherwise crystalized plan