Positioning: Where are we?

Visualizing Knowledge

What the dog sees and we don’t. Who has gone aSTRAY?

From the lowly perspective of a dog’s eyes, everyone looks short – Chinese proverb

IF  

Just as we forget phone numbers and multiplication tables with cell phone memories and calculators we have forgotten to check our positions and some whiz-kid has hacked into all the GPSs to show the wrong position

THEN  

We will all be rushing madly to where no one really wants to go

WHAT IF

This is the truth with or without GPS?  

The corruption in our thinking is at the very source itself!

So how do we debug the source code? 

For us the dog’s is a lowly perspective. But we can prove that the dog’s position is above us and ours is the lowly perspective. All dogs do not see the same. Stray dogs see even better than their domesticated fellows. The latter become less intelligent in the process of socialization with the humans who cut them to size to suit their unfulfilled needs and wants of relationships and community. We are far inferior to them on Community Intelligence and I have reasons to conclude that the stray dogs see that we have gone astray! This is what the visual above shows. The top left quadrant shows the increasing potential of simple to complex systems. The bottom right quadrant shows the corresponding performance at each level of systems. We don’t see a gap between potential and performance till the level of animals, the level which also includes the dogs. From the level of animals we see a fall, which we take it as great progress. What we see depends on where we stand.  In the case of the human and still higher systems, performance is below that of animals. The fall is so steep that it is just on par with simple systems similar to a clock. What we see as great progress is a myth and we are firing on all cylinders heading towards disaster without even realising it.

Where are we ? The Chandrasekhar Limit

This has nothing to do with the famous scientist and the phenomenon that goes by his name. This is about another limit more closer home and this Chandrasekhar is a friend of mine. One morning too early in the day for most of us, I found him in front of his regular bar frantic and searching for a familiar face. He wanted to go home but he didn’t know where he was. Imagine his relief to meet me. He could not hold on and it just popped out of him “Where am I?”  He was greatly relieved. I was not. It continues to haunt me that we know far better about the unreachable stretches of space than what is closest to us and we go around creating a world outside to fit the garbage inside us. That also includes the cosmologist who attributes his fear of death to the universe seeing it breaking down like a clock.

The Position and Positions

Without answering where we are as a species, we cannot have an answer to where I am as an individual.

The first step to a common journey, to go home or elsewhere, virtual or otherwise, is to know where we are now .The GPS or the compass eases the complexity of the task in our regular journeys. Progress is a different kind of a journey and we are yet to agree on this first step. Each of us has a different position on this and the proverbial babble of Babel is the corollary. When we have different positions it is imperative that our perspectives do not converge. Unless we agree on a non-controversial reference to the starting point there will be no common journey

When our basic assumptions about the home position, the reference point,  are wrong it is certain that we will reach some place where we never wanted to go. Any process of improvement calls for fixing a starting position, deciding on the direction and reflecting/review with reference to the starting position.

For over two decades we have been asking people what our basic needs are. The first response is invariably the text book answer, “food, shelter, clothing”. For someone who has decided that life itself is meaningless and suicide is a better option, none of these matter. When we ask “How many sides the coin has?” the answer is always the same,two.  With a little bit of prodding around they will shift their positions and see better.

  1. For a moment let us take position where the four lines meet and take in the common perspective that collectively we are no better than a clock in terms of our performance against our collective potential to perform.
  2. Now it becomes possible to fix a direction for improvement and on this journey of improvement there will be variant positions as we move forward
  3. Now it is also possible to position myself (example: a professional or a facilitator to the journey) and see the variant positions, milestones in that long journey
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The Burden of Normality

The Burden of Normality

What is the First Discipline?

The first discipline is about map making. Disciplines are but collections of maps of physical or virtual spaces. Art, Science or Religion cannot do without maps. Child or grown up, literate or illiterate, we cannot survive without maps.

What is the process of making maps?

The self mediates in the process. We start with models and when the results meet our expectations we elevate them to the level of maps.

What are Meta Maps?

Meta maps connect disciplines. The FDF is an attempt in this direction.

Is there a hierarchy for Meta Maps?

Yes, at the highest level, they connect meta-disciplines, science, religion and art, unifying them into knowledge. The silos get connected.

Explain. .

On 12 October 1492 Columbus arrived in America. The day is celebrated as Discovery Day in the Bahamas. Vasco da Gama reached Calicut, Kerala, in South India on 20 May 1498. It was a happy coincidence that Columbus reached America. It took six more years of effort for the map to be completed and the mission accomplished.

Ancient Chinese sea farers probably had better maps but history was shaped elsewhere. Galileo was struck by the bolt from the blue but complete acceptance came centuries later.

We need a new set of maps for the next phase of the journey. Most maps waste our time and effort. If we have a unified map, it would point us to the solution space. The ship is ready but the captain is waiting for the map.

Maps are many and they multiply exponentially. Aggregation and synthesis within domains and disciplines do happen but less so between disciplines.

Meta maps reduce the search effort to choose the appropriate map/s for one’s journey as individuals, as members of particular communities and for the collective journey of human progress

Environment, development and sustainability are critical and complex concerns that call for concerted community action across the planet. Simple solutions and quick fixes aggravate the problems.

Every scientist faces the problem of communicating his work within the shortest span of time to the widest audience which points to the complexity of communicating science to the masses in contexts where there is no substitute for reason and collective action.

The GUI, essentially a map and a pointer to possible virtual journeys, took   computers to the living rooms across the planet. The web and the cloud open up vast libraries of information and knowledge. The visual framework discussed here was evolved in the process of addressing the environmental, developmental and sustainability challenges in the state of Kerala while working with livelihood and food security issues in primary production (livestock and fisheries) to evolve institutional systems to address them.

The framework was later put to use in addressing similar issues in one of the largest information technology infrastructure projects to connect local communities for development and governance and   in schools, industry and academia as a tool for facilitation of accelerated organizational / community learning. 

Beyond the Burden of ‘Normality’

December 26, 2004

We were rushing to Cape Comorin, the southern tip of peninsular India, two families on a holiday.

Fishermen on the high seas were casting their nets.

People in other parts of the world were asleep, dreaming good and bad dreams

The Tsunami was wreaking havoc on the Cape Comorin shore, on other shores

We knew when we were blocked on the road by the police.

Most fishermen on the high seas knew when they returned to the shore.

Many never knew

When we ride much bigger waves spanning centuries, we are most likely to take them for granted.  It is Procrustean to catch a giant wave into the bell curve in the time span of a snapshot sans the ripples that the wave creates. So is writing a book about it, the damage is permanent. The trees are already dead.

A blog post is better because I can come back and correct this when I know better and if I am alive. Time is a better judge of our power trips.

Copy CATs do not catch mice

Black or white, intelligent or idiots, they should catch mice. They do, in China, it seems.

This happened here in India, the Biggest Bazaar, apologies to KB

Why do we have to clone cats when we make the best mousetraps?

Let us clone the very best cats, go for a bio-tech solution rather than a manufacturing one. It was decided that we will have the Indian solution and the CAT came to be. The first centre was so successful that beating the CAT became the ultimate dream of the slum dog billions. Every panchayat wanted to have one such center. A task force was constituted to decide the exact number of centers to be set up.

There was this farmer from pre territorial independent days who had four sons and 4 + daughters. The female numbers do not really count. One from the + side had only daughters and Nuthan was the youngest of them.  Of the four idiots, three went to the IITs and one took a short cut to one of the CAT centers. He wanted to prove that he was a better idiot than the rest.

One cool January morning Nuthan calls.

Hi, I cleared the CAT and am called to all the centers

Congratulations, you will soon be the newsmaker 2011

Why ?

You are one among 206,000, almost a Black Swan.  We need to wait before concluding that we are getting mature going by the 15% drop in numbers from the previous year.

You deserve the Miss India talent crown. To the best of my knowledge you never went to school or college but spent most of those years in indoor stadia all over the country, having a ball. You never picked up any quant other than balancing the financial statements in your B. Com finals. Yet you did better than the best in School and College.

What was your percentile?

99.2

Nuthan, you are the cutest of all the cats. All the top cats with a perfect 100 belong to the male of the species, went to IITs, went to school every single day, did their coaching circus and most of them took more than one shot to make it. You don’t figure anywhere here and you have a work ex of three years playing for the oil company which you claim to have been working for and getting paid for it.

Thank you.  I am scared whether I will convert the calls or not.  Will you give me some tips to make it to the finals, clearing the GDPI (for the uninitiated this expands to, Group Discussion and Personal Interview)

If you can bell the CAT without going to the circus you can as well do this without me. You should be scared that they will make you conform.

I know you have helped some to beat the CAT

Ok. Let me run a small test for you

What is the scope for more CAT cloning centers in the country?

13 more

Why?

We already have 13, and there are only 26 letters in the ‘Inglish’ alphabet. Taking the UID route will kill the unique value proposition of the brand. One should not kill the golden goose.

Good, you are already half way there to half the centers

What is Indian about the Indian Institute of CATs

I don’t know

Very good, that is why you are going there. You are almost there for 75 % of the centers

Next one, if they ask what if you don’t make it this year?

I will show them my GRE score which is even better than my CATS and tell them that you will have to face me next year with a still better CATS

Congratulations Nuthan, you will convert all the calls

Here is the last one. Suggest a few titles to the passage above

  • Normalization and the True Normal
  • Copy cats Do not Catch Mice
  • The Bell Curve in Indian Life
  • The Fourth Idiot
  • Talent Mania and The War For Talent
  • What is Indian about the Indian Institutes of Management?
  • MCPs and the Revenge of the Underdogs.

Great, don’t go back to school. They will make you conform to the other idiots, crucify = normalize you on the Procrustean bed. Gates and Zuckerman and the other natives of the connected world graduated from the market, nothing but a different version of the same. Copy cats do not catch mice.

Nuthan:  What is Indian about the IIMs?

I don’t know dear

Thanks. (Thank God, I didn’t go to school)

Similitude to living and dead CATs is intentional

Thou shall not Judge…but

The procrustean is the bedrock of modernity (mediocrity), the generator of pyramids and the hierarchical.   Procrustes is a monomaniac, a Narcissus who sees that he fits his frame perfectly and uses the same to sit in judgment. I am intelligent and the other is less intelligent. I am normal and the other is fit for the madhouse.  I am civilized and the other is primitive. I am a native and you are an immigrant. Mine is the only faith that guarantees salvation. He is the economist who says the American is 35 times more ‘developed’, since the Indian has an average income of 1000 dollars against 35000 for the American. Has anybody met the average Indian or the average American?    The happiness index is outside his frame of reference.

Our Mr Talent does not take to fools easily. He thinks the mainstream media is trash. To reply to the fools who read his books is not worth his time, the real resource, according to his own frame. He finds his dollar worth pocketing since that is the price he fixes himself for his intellectual accomplishments. He declares himself a flaneur, a Black Swan, Prophet in the making.

Prophets ‘normally’ come from the east.  Lao tsu, Buddha, Christ, Mohammad, Sankara (from Kerala) Our Mr. Talent could be a candidate for the elite corps of Black Swans. The rest of us are white swans. That sums up the HIStory of 2500 years.

Prophets can be understood only against their contexts. Christ and the society which created him are so interdependent, that to strip them and to judge them in isolation is procrustean. So is Lao Tzu, Buddha, Prophet Mohammad and Shankara. Black makes sense only against the white.

Mr Talent the immigrant rides the American wave better than the natives beating the natives in their own game and nearly transforms himself to a bridge figure.   Uprooted by the Procrustean and forced to flee, let us hope that he will not sacrifice himself on the bed of Procrustes. Gladwell starts on a very promising note highlighting how community contributes to the health of the Rosettto but very soon succumbs to the compulsions of conforming to the recipe to make it to the best-seller list and goes after what constitutes the success cocktail.

All of them are male?

This is part of the reason why we have the silent unseen wars between,  the female against the male,  the unconscious against the conscious, the revenge of the underdogs,  and why the Built to Last fall apart no sooner than they are built.

Black Swans to Black Sheep?

Throughout these posts we refer to people, not books. The books take us to the people since work defines the person. In the same spirit we look at the living rather than those long dead and still not buried.  What we see depends on where we stand, our positions. One could take the Wall Street perspective or the Bangalore Perspective. The Black swan from the New York perspective turns out to be a Black Sheep from the Bangalore position.

Some books, people and books yet to be written J

  • The Fifth Discipline, 1990, Peter M. Senge
  • If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him, 1974, Sheldon Kopp
  • The Bell Curve, Intelligence and Class structure in American Life,1994, Richard  Herrnstein, Charles Murray
  • Outliers, 2008, Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Black Swan, 2007, The Bed of Procrustes, 2010, Nicholas Nassim Taleb
  • Can Asians Think?,1999,Kishore Mahubani
  • Three Idiots,2009, Movie from India
  • Tunnel Vision, TV. Yet to be published
  • The WFT and the Future History of the Modern Pyramids, 2111. Yet to be published – it takes a gap of around 100 years to normalize our achievements and  to put them in perspective.

The above passage was circulated to the tribe. The comments:

  • Does normal exist?  Yes, when we are true to the design, we are truly normal. It has nothing to do with the fleeting ‘normality of the time’.  The compulsion  to conform to this stupid normality is the burden of normality
  • Based on the ‘normal’ perspective Nuthan would not have been able to get a CAT call since she did not tread the beaten path. She had meaningful answers for the sort of absurd questions that are asked at GDPI, questions tailored to fit the standard profile of those who clear CAT. Despite not being on the conventional bell curve Nuthan was able to crack everything designed to fit the standard CAT profile.
  • Exceptions point to the truly normal and only the truly normal can aspire to be super normal.

Thou shall judge… but keeping in mind the other 51 posts in the series.

P.S. 19 April 2011. Nuthan calls again. She did make it to the one she wanted.

What the Dog Saw…Did not See

Visualizing Knowledge

From the lowly perspective of a dog’s eyes, everyone looks short – Chinese proverb

From knowing to SEE ing

All dogs do not see the same

Stray dogs see better  than domesticated dogs

The latter become less intelligent in the process.  Leveling?

They may not be very ‘lowly’ as the Chinese say

We haven’t fared any better than them

On Community Intelligence !

Even the dog sees that we have gone astray !


Juggling with Ps – The Picture of Philosophy

  • When everything is a lie, lie detectors are akin to mousetraps where rats are extinct. What we need is a truth detector. Philosophy ought to be that touchstone to detect truth.pic of philosophy
    True normality  
    • When one’s inheritance is from the cloud every one is a prnce or a princess.
    • Will Durant  tells the Story of Philosophy in over 600 pages and Kant takes 800 pages for the Critique of Pure Reason. Yet the story is far from complete. Schopenhauer laments,  “ I could not find a shorter way of imparting it than this book, The World as Will and Idea.
    • Philosophy has gone out of fashion. We should  not expect the princes  to wade through the semantic swamp of philosophy and the other disciplines and  come up with a new synthesis.
    • The shorter way, a new synthesis,  is an imperative. A picture is worth thousand words is an understatement which discounts the value of maps, and mapping. Text can never be free of slipperiness and linearity. We need more maps and pictures to avoid killing more trees, more so when reading has given way to viewing. Visual literacy has become a critical competency.
    • The perceived normal is the abnormal. We can now see the truly normal
    • History is Philosophy in motion (Croce). Pull down the tent poles of space and time, history and philosophy collapse to the present and the two meet. The true historian (all history is lies and it is always His story not hers and western philosophy is no different) and the true philosopher would meet at this  moment of truth. The  artist,scientist, theologian and the pursuers of other paths too would meet at the same cross roads if the synthesis  is effective. We would be saving a lot of wasted effort when all of us use the same philosopher’s compass.
    • Most of our partners in dialogue had  their background in business, governance and developmental management. We worked together to arrive at the common ground since it  is from here that accelerated community learning  takes off.
    • Less is more. “Brevity is the soul of wit.”
    • Connect > Occam’s razor
    • Philosopher’s stone
    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Hutter
    • Intelligence > Problem Solving> Continual improvement
    • Why AI, artificial intelligence > Modeling NI, natural intelligence, with gainful compression of knowledge