On the difference between Empathy and Compassion

Recently I’ve been considering the nature of relationships as complex systems. In the complex domain the advice is generally “Probe – Sense – Respond”. In the context of relationships this might mean observing how someone behaves in under certain conditions and categorizing the responses. It is usually impossible to predict what this person will do but in retrospect we are able to draw insights. My suggestion was that this is an essential human skill: Empathy.

We often confuse empathy and compassion. After reading this article I thought to highlight the difference:

  • Empathy is about the pursuit of understanding other points of view, it helps us develop better relationships because it enables us to navigate. Empathy is more about developing maps.
  • Compassion is a word that implies an emotional connection with others without shifting our POV. Compassion is more about acknowledging the intrinsic value.

The article argues that we should insulates our logic from our emotion, i.e. develop your compassion for others, not your empathy.

I believe, it is a question of our intensions: if our goal is to understand then empathy is more of the correct word (and behavior). If our goal is to care about other people then perhaps compassion is the better word.


Words cannot express my gratitude to the amazing people I’ve worked with over the last 3 and a half years at Pixafy and Net@Work. Wish i had more pictures but I’ll always have great memories.


My 21 Favorite Fantasy Series

Fantasy appreciates the limitations of normal perception and re-imagines the human condition. It tests our belief in things that are impossible or improbable. … Plus magic is awesome.

So, here is my 21 favorite fantasy series:

  1. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
  2. The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss
  3. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
  4. Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
  5. The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
  6. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
  7. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  8. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
  9. The Reconners by Brandon Sanderson
  10. Manazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
  11. Iron Druid by Kevin Herne
  12. Riyria Chronicles by Michael J. Sullivan
  13. The Cycle of Arawn by Edward W. Robertson
  14. The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
  15. Gentlemen Bastards by Scott Lynch
  16. Raven’s Shadow by Anthony Ryan
  17. Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett
  18. The First Law by Joe Abercrombie
  19. The Sword of Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks
  20. The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind
  21. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Programming is a Craft

Programming is a craft. At its simplest, it comes down to getting a computer to do what you want it to do (or what your user wants it to do). As a programmer, you are part listener, part advisor, part interpreter, and part dictator. You try to capture elusive requirements and find a way of expressing them so that a mere machine can do them justice. You try to document your work so that others can understand it, and you try to engineer your work so that others can build on it. What’s more, you try to do all this against the relentless ticking of the project clock. You work small miracles every day.

Andrew Hunt & David Thomas, “The Pragmatic Programmer”