Tag Archives: intertwingularity

Lost, in Another Dimension

“There are 2 types of people: those who believe the world can be divided into 2 types people and those who don’t”, say the ancient texts – and then there’s me.

Do you remember when politics used to be about Left and Right?
The https://www.politicalcompass.org/ taught us that there was another dimension, running from Authoritarian to Libertarian. These scales are non-binary.

My adventures in interwingularity have taught me that, for every way a data set can be divided, along an axis between 2 extremes, there may be another axis that you haven’t thought of yet.

I used to provide support of information systems to an energy trading floor. On a team-buildingĀ  course I learned that trading floors are split into 2 types of people:

  • Traders, obviously, who have large appetites for the risk which brings highest profits and run on emotion and gut feel, lightly supported by a platform of market knowledge
  • Analysts, who are risk averse, cross-check everything from independent sources and always want more data before they make a decision

Any successful trading operation probably depends on the correct tension, and consequential personal stress, between these 2 groups of people and they drive one another crazy. In the middle is a regulatory department, making decisions about the analysts’ concerns about the traders’ latest wild scheme that may destroy the organisation. When not even ‘Regulatory’ can break a dead-lock, it has to go to executive level, for a final decision.

I can see no reason why a political party with a deep belief in market economical principles would be any different, ‘and so, to Brexit’: leaving the EU was dangerous but potentially highly lucrative for the Conservative Party’s key supporters. Party MPs are spread along the axis between safety and danger. The Brexiteers sold a dream but had no plan. The Remains’ plan was to do nothing, but lacked the marketing skills to make inaction sound attractive. They had lots of data, graphs even, on why Leave wouldn’t work but no-one planning to vote ‘Leave’ was inclined to listen. They’d bought the dream from the salesmen in the sharpest suits and scatter plots weren’t really their thing. The cautious, analytical half of the electorate heeded the warnings but they were still pushed off the cliff by the over-excited lemmings who didn’t give a damn what any ‘so-called experts’ thought. Those MPs with a natural tendency to regulate excesses and the executive who would normally have been limitting their ambition were on the team not risking The Really Dangerous Thing.

I now work as an Agile Business Analyst and I am currently available for hire.
I offer special rates for political parties. Market forces may apply.



Talking to People IRL

I don’t know what I was thinking, but a few months ago I VOLUNTEERED to give a talk; in a room, with an audience of 50 people, all looking at my face. In theory, that should be fine. Put someone else in the metaphorical spot-light and I’ll happily ask them questions or debate with them about what they’ve said. I run workshops with a simple structure and a lot of ‘make it up on the fly’ in my work as a business analyst. I can do that, so I know that my dislike for ‘making presentations’ is completely irrational. Sadly, that doesn’t help.

Last Thursday, I faced my fear in the friendly environment of Web Staffordshire Meetup. I had my slides about ‘Fixing Intertwingularity’ to flick through, printed notes made of mind-maps, with a few red scribbles on them to guide me, based on my timed practice runs at home. I knew that if I stuck to the script, I could fit the content into my 15 minute slot, with a minute to spare.

I wasn’t nervous before I went up. When I was introduced, my ‘spontaneous’ quip about it being “a big crowd for a philosophy gig” went down well. I’m not sure what happened to the second half of that joke, or indeed to about a third of the first page of notes, carefully crafted to set my book as the context of where the weird ideas came from. I’d decided on a character I was going to play, to give myself a virtual cloak to hide in. He was running for the door at this point. From there on, I stuck to the script. Apart from stumbling over a few words I’d normally be fine with, and not being able to read some of my notes, I don’t think the rest sucked too badly.

I think I understand the problem now – it’s trying to do All The Things at once. I’ve already had the ideas and built a framework to constrain my words to a path heading in the right direction but with the added adrenalin, new words arrive uninvited when there’s nowhere to fit them in. I need to act as doorman to interruptions from my subconscious, deliver the talk, keep my place, look ahead to what’s coming next, make eye contact with the audience and remember when to change to the next slide. I can’t do that. I also need to not deliver a live commentary on what is going wrong.

Afterwards, I had some great chats with people who had found the subject “thought provoking” and I think I presented other ideas more lucidly. Maybe I need a shorter path with more gaps in the fence, so I can run free. I’ve put my career as a standup comedian on hold for now.


Loose-Leaf Thinkmanship

Armed with the knowledge that I have foolishly volunteered to give a talk about Intertwingularity to the good people of ‘Web Staffordshire’, which needs to be condensed into a 10 minute slot in serialised space-time, I thought I’d start work 2 weeks earlier than normal. Being brief takes longer.

I read a sentence, “Hierarchical and sequential structures, especially popular since Gutenberg, are usually forced and artificial” in my notes, for the nth time, where n is not an especially small number. Gutenberg, printing, books? Why hadn’t I noticed this before? (I can answer that: I was thinking about what information ‘sequence’ is last night. I had to do that before I could see this. The order in which ideas are presented matters a great deal. I had nowhere to hang the new idea until I had constructed the hook labelled “sequence/serialise/order/sort”.)

My mental model of books has previously been pseudo-infinite rolls of paper, like long web pages, chopped up at appropriate page boundaries to fit between book bindings, but I should have KNOWN that isn’t right. Shakespeare’s ‘Folio’ was a collection of earlier, shorter documents. Medieval scribes wrote important works on vellum and calves don’t come in ‘Size Infinite’. I have never held a real scroll. I don’t know how to operate one.

Was there an index in the jars which contained the Dead Sea Scrolls? Has Mr. ‘hypertext’ Nelson been telling me all along that hierarchy came in with the printing press, as a way to manage text ‘at scale’, like an army, and I’ve been ignoring him? Imagine these fixed-leaf binders defining and thereby constraining ‘correct-sequence’ of text-chunks that were once free to wander?