Re: [unrev-II] "As We May Think", The Exploratories Project & a Tour of Mindmapping Links

From: Peter Jones (
Date: Tue Jul 10 2001 - 11:41:48 PDT

  • Next message: Peter Jones: "Re: [unrev-II] "As We May Think", The Exploratories Project & a Tour of Mindmapping Links"


    Yes, I'd understood that point.

    >In other words, our affect ought to do a better job of directing our intellect.

    I'm not sure I really understood this last point though, because affects are usually spoken of in relation to peripheral nervous system response to stimuli in all the literature I've read. That's why I posted that link on colour-coding knowledge threads, because it might offer a way to preload affects at the intuitive level prior to conscious perception as a means of guiding thought.

    Perhaps you meant effects?
    Then that also becomes an interesting question. Take for example this piece of information on this site that Bernard Vatant brought to our attention.
    Check out the stats they give for negative vs. positive concepts. Almost twice as many negative concepts in the language (likely to make stimulated positive thinking hard work at 2:1, eh?). But also particularly note the disclaimer at the bottom about the circumstantial relativism of values.
    On that last point, frequently innovation is predicated on dissatisfaction with other existing products or situations. The act of innovation is itself often quite destructive in many aspects of life. Yet it if is successfully adopted then the end is considered an improvement.
    So how do you judge when it is ethical to innovate or not? For the good of the many? How many? (And then you get into sorites problems: how many grains of sand does it take to make a heap; if I take one off is it still a heap; etc.)

    So, that issue of directing the intellect is loaded with deep, dark questions. Who chooses the directions, and on what basis do they have that authority? What constitutes an invalid judgement? And so on. Note that we already have institutions that make many of these calls.

    There was an interesting piece in the Economist a while back about a scientist who'd looked into the issue of how long it would take the world to map various protein molecules if folks would only coordinate their efforts in a nice neat mathematical way. Sadly the reality was that folks weren't collaborating that neatly so it was going to take them decades to do what might have taken them 5 years or less otherwise, by his calculations.
    But treating people as though they should be ants doesn't work. And in capitalism business is no different from the competition of species for resources -- it's not just one big ant farm.
    And who knows whether leaving those scientists to compete with each other might not give rise to a method that allows everyone to solve the problem in months?

    So how do we deal with infoglut without killing innovation?
    Increasing specialisation at the top end and more accurate retrieval engines.


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Henry van Eyken
      To: Peter Jones
      Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2001 1:17 PM
      Subject: Re: [unrev-II] "As We May Think", The Exploratories Project & a Tour of Mindmapping Links

      Thanks, Peter.
      To make a bit more sense, I should have made it explicit that the exponential production of thoughts brings about an exponential production of work to be done.

      [snipped unrelated stuff]

      ----- Original Message -----

          From: Henry van Eyken
          Sent: Monday, July 09, 2001 1:01 PM
          Subject: Re: [unrev-II] "As We May Think", The Exploratories Project & a Tour of Mindmapping Links
           Re the info overload part of John's post, about four decades ago serious thought was given to the trend toward the immense amount of leasure time people would soon have on their hands. That thinking came about through labor contracts being negotiated and won that specified ever shorter work weeks and greater social benefits, especially by Reuter for the auto workers.
          It was envisaged that eventually working would become a privilege. There were also murmurings about the balance between the huge amount of education/training needed for top professional insights/skills and the limited number of hours a professional would be "allowed" to devote to his profession.

          And much later, with computers and robots, again came visions of la vita dolce. But somehow all of this did not come to pass. Looking at my very personal corner of the world of work, here I am picking my way through heaps of expensive-yet-tiresome verbal trash about mark-up languages to find in it those few nourishing items of coherent, useful info that may get me off to do a better job for the Bootstrap Institute. And while using my Netscape browser online, I am continually harassed by little advertising windows that suddenly come up on my monitor. Then I imagine corporations paying for people's surgery by projecting on their bare bellies advertising about sportscars and golf courses and tampax directed at those performing the operations.

          And within this chaos of thoughts, I realize that every two items of knowledge that stimulate us to try and create a connection between them place us "at the beginning of an interminable waterway with in the offing the sea and the sky welded together without a joint" (Joseph Conrad, "Heart of Darkness"). From two thoughts and their connection come three bits of knowledge that offer three attempts at connection. From the ensuing six thoughts may come 15 thoughts, and so on. Granted that many attempts bear fruit neither benign nor malign, the explosion of mental work open to further pursuit is still exponential, without a joint separating good from bad, nor purpose from happenstance.

          And from all of this it seems to me that the real, but unstated objective of Bush's "How we may think" and of Doug's augmenting the collective IQ is for the benign fruits to outpace and subdue the malign fruits born from our knowledge explosion. And then I realize that we need to better cultivate a way for people to pursue the potentially benign mental connections and discourage the potentially malign mental connections.

          In other words, our affect ought to do a better job of directing our intellect.


          "John J. Deneen" wrote:

            "As We May Think" by Vannevar Bush - J U L Y 1 9 4 5
            James Burke, writer and host of BBC's "Connections 3" series also says this:
            "The Internet may bring destabilizing effects of information overload that will operate on a scale and at a rate well beyond anything that has happened before. Information abundance will stress society in ways for which it has not been prepared and damage centralized social systems designed to function in a nineteenth-century world." - The Knowledge Web, p 22.
            etc., etc.

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