Beware either/or, with us/against us, yes/no approaches to complex questions, not least because they leave out some of the most interesting responses, such as: neither, the framing is malformed, there are more dimensions than you think.
June 2021Monthly Archives
If you, your community, or even most people, think that those opposed to you are cranks, pseudo-scientists, deluded, etc. remember that you’re necessarily wrong some of the time, and those category errors, once uncovered, represent immense opportunity.
In a discourse with sides (e.g. left-right, a two-party system, prescriptive vs descriptive), it’s impossible for your side to be right about everything; the other side’s ideas should be an efficient place to find merit, therefore, if you can manage to ignore the branding.
Philosophy Smell #7: “Denial as a Symptom of Guilt”—The lady doth protest too much, indeed. Nonetheless, anything in the form, “that which disagrees with X is evidence of X” is a mind-prison, internment in which can sometimes be broken only by a painful collision with reality.
Frederick Brooks: conceptual unity requires tiny teams with one mind in charge. Eric Raymond: the team can be of any size, given sufficient comms tech and leadership by one mind.
Prediction: the technology of expression will improve to the extent that any number of minds can lead.
“In any profession, 90% of people are clueless but work by situational imitation, narrow mimicry & semi-conscious role-playing.”—Nassim Taleb
My third corollary to Conway’s Law: The quality of an organization’s output is inversely proportional to the extent to which its actual structure corresponds to its org chart.
Cut the Links Until You Get to Hierarchy
I’d like to share with you a section from the famous book on software creation (and creation generally): The Mythical Man Month, by Fredrick Brooks. Why? This particular section is a proud example of our habit, as a species, of letting our tools dampen and simplify our thinking, rather than taking the time to build tools that are ideisomorphic—that is, sensitive enough to represent human thought—or even to build tools that actually expand the compass of cognition.
Another corollary to Conway’s Law: Most organizations are hierarchical, meaning that most software will be hierarchical, no matter how inappropriate for the task and/or user.
“Indeed, one of the ways of establishing conceptual control over such structure [software plans as richly connected network graphs] is to enforce link cutting until one or more of the graphs becomes hierarchical.”—Frederick P. Brooks Jr.
Brooks, usually profound, of course misses that you can have coherence without hierarchy, and that to cut a link is to destroy information.