Complexity: The Haven of the Status Quo

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The sophistication of simplicity.

Currently, my team and I are analyzing and evaluating all of the visual applications in the industry. We are beginning to question the plethora of “features” and asking are these elementals or molecules composed of elementals that we are dealing with? If they are molecules, we are breaking the bonds and looking at the atoms that compose them. We are throwing out all of the molecules from our interaction designs and only offering the atoms. If you want a molecule, you build it.

We are asking the same questions about media. What is fundamental to media what are the nodes and what are the links? How do we break the links (rules) that compose them?

The result is simplicity. We are learning what the elemental atoms are and the fundamental bonds between them. We are exploring what digital technology is making possible and questioning all our premises. Do we need these nodes? Do we need these lines? Do we need these tables? Do we need these networks?

We are finding that complexity is the haven of those that want to conceal the fundamentals and profit from our ignorance. Complexity is an obstacle to the change we need to implement to escape the trap of the banking institutions, the lending institutions, the credit institutions, the existing infrastructures and resource companies who profit off of what we think we need. Complexity is only a necessity to those who want to entrench the status quo through mental red tape we neither need or want.

Destroy the rule systems that exist throughout society. We don’t need to streamline. We need to disintegrate the existing power structures.

The bonus monies disbursed to bank executives was payment by the powers that be to those who succeeded in generating massive profits at the expense of the American people and the world. It was payment for creating a system so complex we could not let them topple for fear of bringing down everything with it. But the secret is to let them topple by destroying their nodes and links, hubs and networks. Such freedom and responsibility is a scary prospect, but “You will miss us when we are gone!” is not a business model. Complexity is fat and American capitalism is gluttony.

Put down the plate and lose the weight.

Rediscover the freedom and responsibility of simplicity.

Use Visualization to identify and destroy complexity.

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Literacy and Numeracy: Who Needs Them?

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When Plato was teaching his students he was often frustrated by their note taking and reference to written records.  Plato was of the opinion that the new technology of literacy was creating a generation that was unable to think and meditate on what they were learning because of their dependency on the written word.

Today, technology is providing us with a broad array of new media with which we record, replay, produce, publish, communicate and collaborate without using literacy or numeracy.  Academics, publishers and governments are alarmed at declines in the reading of printed publications and student’s declining performance in the classroom.  They are claiming that “computeracy” is creating a generation that cannot read, write or perform mathematical operations because of their dependency on digital communication.

The truth is literacy and numeracy are simply primitive techniques for encoding information.  Composition and mathematics are just a bag of mental tricks for processing information.  And most of us do most of it poorly anyway.

Grieving over the loss of literacy and numeracy is like grieving over the inability to weave cloth or tailor one’s own clothes.  Computers have made literacy and numeracy very much like the mechanization of textile production.

What is happening in classrooms, to publisher’s sales and bureaucracy is not a decline in the intelligence of our next generation.  It is an increasing obsolescence of traditional literacy and numeracy.

Our children are not thinking at lower levels.  Instead, they are not wasting time with the mental effort required to mechanically process at the level of traditional literacy and numeracy and applying themselves to higher level thought.

The current method of submitting papers for peer review is completely obsolete.  HTML was an attempt to take the primitive technology of the printed page, reference and citation and emulate it with the small addition of hyperlinks.

The yet to be fully realized method of academic publication will be the publication of databases containing problem and hypothesis, subjects and researchers, schemas and forms, data and queries, measures and units, amounts and currencies, results and conclusions all available for peer review and public consumption–research databases and white databases.  And beyond that entire models in common formats which we are seeing in Computer Assisted Design Systems and Geographic Information Systems, for example.

This new generation using new media is modeling the universe in ways and at scales that were impossible with pen, paper and chalkboard.  They are even beyond printing press, radio, television, recorded audio, recorded video and most physical storage.  And the new generation can already interact globally in all of these new media.

Where are the people that are supposedly preparing them for life in this new world?  Complaining that their students are not interested in reading text books.  Even pumping normal children full of Ritalin to deny they as educators are not worthy of their students’ attention.