Recently I received an email from a long time colleague who came across my blog. He’s a very bright chap, so I decided to share the content with you. However, I can’t leave his comments unaddressed consequently I have inserted my responses in the text. — relationary
I have a few comments for you regarding the blog. please take them as
constructive criticism. I am happy and inspired to see someone so
enthusiastic about uncovering and learning things, but I am also a bit
concerned for you that you may be spinning your wheels on something.
If this means I keep returning to basic principles, I’m guilty.
1. You mention that you agree that there “is no box” to think outside
of. Much of your blog is related to the six hats/coats system where you
attempt to come up with a very generic system of classification for many
different processes. I would say that in general, any system of
classification is really “a box” in itself. It has no predictive
abilities and does not simplify or explain the relationships between
things – it is a set of buckets that you come up with to group concepts
into. Systems of classification can be practical and useful, and can
help to uncover greater realizations, but they can also in a sense
create or reinforce a fixed way of explaining and thinking about things
(a box) and stifle innovation/creativity. Have you heard the saying that
some achieve impressive things because they are too ignorant, or have
not yet been told that they don’t have the ability to do it? A system of
classification tells you how the world is. It does not tell you how it
works, or tell you how to explore things.
Actually, the Six Hats, Six Coats model is a framework for analyzing or designing systems. The modeling techniques it is based on have predictive capabilities. However, I have taken the Six Hats, Six Coats concept and created a simple classification system as well. On this I agree, not everything will fit snugly, but it is a good starting point.
As an example, the common set of human races (black, white, spanish,
arab, chinese, oriental, etc..) is a system of classification, and a
very arbitrary one based on external appearance or cultural origins. It
can help us to understand certain types of things, but it causes
problems and limits the way people think about other people. I would say
that genetics and mapping the human genome is the real breakthrough that
will in the future allow us to truly explain (and control) why and how
life works and evolves. If I was you I’d strive to be the geneticist
rather than to spend time determining which buckets to categorize things
or people into.
In genetics we have four building blocks or monomers known as G A T and C. Billions of these make up DNA. In the same way the six interrogatives: why, who, how, what, where and when, are the building blocks of complex networks that comprise a computer system.
Humans have asked questions and tried to understand things for a long
time. The interrogatives are the linguistic basis as to how humans
investigate, ask, and describe things. The three fundamental units of
measurement can be used to describe all of the other units of
measurement. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but to me it is not a
huge discovery that most systems we already understand can be framed or
described in terms of the the interrogatives and basic units of measure
that we have. It’s kind of like saying “anything we currently know about
or understand can be explained with the terms we use to explain things.”
or like saying “I can express any whole number as a series of digits.”
The assertion I am making is many analysts and designers do not address all the interrogatives when they are working with a system and consequently they build a less than satisfactory product.
All 6 of your hat/coat concepts relate to how humans sense, express, or
understand the world around them. Because your system of classification
is based and trapped within the confines of how humans currently view
the world that is what makes the classification system a box. I believe
that Einstein, Newton and others all pushed outside of the known and
accepted world which is why they are recognized as discovering something
new and expanding our knowledge.
The thinkers referred to observed the universe around them and large amounts of historical observations and worked out a means to incorporate all the exceptions to the theories of their day by creating new theories. They did not expand our knowledge, they expanded our wisdom.
Your background is in databases/information systems. Maybe that is why
you are so interested in classifying things, but as a suggestion, maybe
it would be interesting to try to explore something that gives new
understanding. (I’m one to talk, I have a physics degree that I’ve done
very little with ;^)
Yes, I classify everything. That’s the reason I see that the six interrogatives hold all the key components of physics: cause, observer, energy, mass, space and time.
The concepts of time, space and mass each have their own related
interrogative as you point out. Why do people and things have two
similar but different interrogatives Who/What, but temperature and
emotion which are not tangible things share the interrogative with
physical things (We ask “What is the temperature”, “what is an
emotion”?) Why don’t we have a separate interrogative that begins with
wh for non-tangible things? (Whelt is the temperature? Whelt is your
emotional state? Whelt is the colour of the truck? What is that round
thing sitting on the chair?) It seems quite arbitrary to me, and
probably stems from human nature to frame things in terms of causes,
people, locations, things, and time. The set of interrogatives we have
are based on human nature, and culture not on some universal, basic or
complete set of interrogatives that exists. I’ve heard that some native
American languages do not have tenses. Are there other languages that
have missing or additional interrogatives in relation to English?
I am of the opinion that the six interrogatives are all that are needed. The complexity increases but the building blocks are always the six interrogatives.
2.You quote Einstein as:
Energy = Mass * Space / Time / Time
That is not correct in two different ways.
1st, Einstein was not the first one to say that Energy is expressed in
terms of mass, space and time. Einstein was the first to say that mass
and energy were convertible (or equivalent) between each other, and that
the relationship between the the mass and energy produced is E=mc^2.
Long before Einstein, physicists had defined the concept of energy, and
measured it in terms of mass*space*space/time/time.
Secondly, energy is expressed in units of “Mass * Space * Space / Time /
E=force exerted over a distance = f * d = a mass accelerating over a
distance = m * a * d = m * d / t^2 * d = m * d * d / t / t.
Thank you for the correction. I have modified the relevant post.
Anyway, take care and hopefully all is well with you. Nice to stumble
across your blog and see an old face that I haven’t seen in a while.
Thanks again, my friend.