Sense-making in multiple dimensions #

Ideas build through different types of connection

The more I practice the routines of Personal Knowledge Management, the more I notice some of the underlying structures. In particular I am struck by the multi-dimensionality of how I learn.

Luis Suarez has started blogging again after a three year hiatus, and has posted several reflections on his dissatisfaction with social media (one factor in his withdrawal), combined with a desire to recapture the conversational essence from the early days of blogs:

Once you see the light and enjoy it [Conversations on Web2.0 era social media] for a good few years there is no way back into the darkness. And if you do, at your own peril. That’s why, as part of that unlearning process, I’m back to blogging long form

In the comments Luis and I have been discussing the importance within sense-making of allowing for slowness and reflection (e.g. multi-speed sense-making or #SlowSocial).

For me this cross-links to Mike Caulfield’s metaphor of the Garden and the Stream where he advocates wiki-like media (in particular Federated Wiki) as “a different way to think your online activity, no matter what tool you use [and] a different way of collaborating as well”. His key point is that “Garden” media allow the author to express the inter- relationship of concepts regardless of time:

The Garden is the web as topology. The web as space. It’s the integrative web, the iterative web, the web as an arrangement and rearrangement of things to one another

whereas Stream-based media are organised by time. In this category he lumps blogging with social platforms such as Twitter.

An adaptation of Caulfield’s views is offered by Frank McPherson who considers the true characteristic of the Stream as being ephemerality rather than the fact of it being presented in a time-based way.

When you consider these two characteristics, ephemerality and time-based organisation, whilst platforms such as Twitter fit absolutely within the Stream metaphor, a blog can straddle both ends of the spectrum depending on how it is used. Some posts really are throw-aways of the moment, whereas others can show the development of an idea over time; a flowing series of half-baked ideas.

For Caulfield there is a deep power in media that allows topological relationships between concepts to emerge, and (perhaps a little rhetorically) he asserts:

that our survival as a species depends on us getting past the sweet, salty fat of ‘the web as conversation’ and on to something more timeless, integrative, iterative, something less personal and less self-assertive, something more solitary yet more connected.

As often happens, when I looked up the Caulfield reference I started looking through some of his other posts relating to different uses for Federated Wiki, and found this compelling account of a classic “join the dots” moment, characterised by Mike as “collaboration with ourselves across temporal boundaries”

Underlying all of these metaphors is a sense of connecting ideas through multiple dimensions:

Self-OtherNew ideas are formed by linking to other ideas which may have been expressed by myself or others
TimeIdeas develop over time, and can reference ideas expressed at different times in the past
Concept spaceIdeas relate to other ideas topologically

At least two of these are in themselves multi-dimensional (how do you map the topology of ideas to each other, or the relationships between different actors?) but I leave that for someone with better visual expression to play with. 😉

Avatar
Julian Elve
Proactive application of technology to business

My interests include technology, personal knowledge management, social change

Related