the mind as a map

The human mind should work much like modern mapping and camera technology – zoom, pan, adjust, layer, interact – and export too.

At any moment, the majority of minds fall into one of two categories: big and strategic, or focused and tactical. But as changing times require changing minds, the third category has emerged: the dynamic and balanced. This category can be seen as a mix of the first two, instantaneously being able to function based on the attributes of the surrounding medium.

These minds are very much like new cameras, mapping applications, GPS tools, and related emerging technologies. They build a informative picture for a user, based off organized databases and knowledge bases, and allow a level of functional interaction to continuously feed new information to that user. These functionalities, when applied to the human mind, are all essential for continued growth in a rapidly changing (and unpredictable) society.

Zoom

  • Act as a lens. Be able to zoom in and out from a single focal point. For any given topic, the mind must be able to pay attention to the smallest of details while still being able to see the big picture. Understand the color and shape of the individual puzzle pieces while at the same time seeing where that piece fits into the full picture on the puzzle box.
  • Re-focus instantaneously at every level of zoom. Purposely making pictures blurry can provide useful in some instances, but the act of focusing should be natural and automatic. 
  • Like looking at a Magic Eye or a lovely Seurat, be able to find the right level of zoom where the picture is most clear.
  • “Zoom Analytics” as I’ll call it, should be embraced as a common analytical method. It’s always been a mathematical problem solving technique, but not universally taught.

Pan

  • Need to be able to swiftly move from topic to topic, and connect those that are related.
  • Moving back to a previously-visited topic should bring quicker loading of that memory.

Adjust

  • The mind must continuously grow in dimension and adjust for core characteristics. Recognize patterns and contrasts, shapes and sizes, color and form and adjust the view and output accordingly.
  • Toggle perspective and angle to see the infinite sides of any one picture. Perspective is everything.

Layer

  • If the brain consisted of data and memory silos, the main interface should be able to integrate any combination of data and memory into a single comprehensive picture.
  • It should be able to see localized data as well as aggregate data for larger constructs. Filter data and memory based off a set of parameters, re-organize it, and feed it into the common operating picture.

Interact

  • The picture is not static. The brain must by dynamic in nature, allowing a constant influx of new information and updating of old information. 
  • Re-organization of data and memory should be consistent with the changing society in which we live. When a scientific/technological revolution occurs, the way in which our information is processed and stored must be compatible with the changes in society.

Export

  • Not every tool can do every task. That’s why exporting is good. Create a new data set from which you, or someone else, can work. Export a map or a picture that can be analyzed by another set of eyes. For the human, you must be able to transfer stored information to others, and most importantly, communicate it effectively. English is English, math is math, kml is kml.
  • Language is good because it is a standard by which we can effectively communicate. Choosing words wisely is something that should be practiced on top of a common linguistic standard. It’s one thing to speak the same language, but another to foster understanding.

And so, truly finding a balance between big and small perspectives is important. It’s important for making wise decisions, being a team player, being an effective manager, giving valuable advice, and finding optimal direction in life. So as much as you make sure you can get deep in the weeds, make sure you can easily get out.

“It’s not what you’re looking at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

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geek speak

Modern investment in math and science education requires the subjects to evolve. Most of that evolution should be in the language and culture to make it more connected to society.

Historically, math and science have had their own language, so to speak. Geek speak – complex phrases and nerdy nomenclature have made it a world in which one must be “admitted” (no pun intended, although it surely can be crazy).

I’ve spent the past three years in a technical and scientific environment, and the majority of my academic years with strong focus in math and science. It’s clear to me that bubbles form from which the admitted can rarely escape. That’s because there is a standard by which many professors, scientists, mathematicians, and researchers live and it includes living the language of their subject. But for me, the teachers and mentors that have had the greatest impact on me were those that could speak plain English to me while still teaching the concepts and theorems without loss of transmitted information. They successfully connected plain English with geek speak.

Naturally, within any subject, company, or even group of friends, it’s expected for a lexicon to be developed and learned. It’s important for that standard dictionary of terms and phrases to exist as it creates the social networks and communities that fuel collaborative innovation. But again, those bubbles need to have a more permeable film, to allow a constant admission of newbies no longer deterred by a language barrier.

A recent Sept 2009 Wired Magazine article talks about this, particularly for those in middle and high school. Author Daniel Roth states, “If we want to reform education, we have to make it cool to be a geek.” This is exactly the point. Connect the notion of fitting in with the realms of math and science by connecting the languages and the culture at specific educational levels. If nerdiness can become a part of everyday life, the bubble will not only expand but the film will become more permeable. The positive results will be seen in technological advancement, discovery, and common understanding.

To conclude, the ability to communicate complex concepts and theorems in a way that’s easily understood by a new learner is essential. It’s essential for building a more connected society – one with greater educational opportunity and understanding. In other words, the societal congruence at time t will optimize the combinatorial pathways for achievement at time t+1.

being multilingual

The art of persuasion requires a balance of individualistic traits and audience-dependent communication tactics. You are who you are. Your listeners (and/or readers) are who they are. The transfer of knowledge and sentiment is optimized only when those characteristics and qualities meet in the middle.

The cultural diversity of our world is amazing. At the simplest level, I’m envious of those fortunate to have been able to grow up learning multiple languages, customs, and behaviors. Being multilingual, in the traditional sense, is an truly desirable quality that could bring a high level of social opportunity to an individual.

But being multilingual does not just mean speaking more than one language. Being multilingual means to be able to dynamically adapt your voice to any audience to optimize understanding, induce thought, and drive action. This quality of being multilingual is just as valuable in today’s society as it is to be multilingual in the traditional sense.

In the latest issue of Wired magazine, Clive Thompson writes about “The New Literacy”. He talks about how many people think kids can no longer write. But in his mind (and my mind as well) other factors have changed what it means to listen, comprehend, and be persuaded.

“The reality is just that the paradigm has shifted” he says. “What today’s young people know is that knowing who you’re writing for and why you’re writing might be the most crucial factor of all.”

It’s called Kairos – “assessing audience and adapting tone and technique to best get a point across”. It’s not a new concept, but certainly continuing to be a most desirable trait in our accelerating world. Much of that acceleration can be attributed to the development of our handy communication devices and, more specifically, social media technologies. Our personal ratio of consumed information bits per unit of time has exploded because of the new mechanisms by which all that information can get to us. In a sense, modern technology has enabled a new understanding of speaker-audience relationships. It has driven a new balance of the effectiveness of a particular message and the efficiency with which that message can be delivered.

“Technology isn’t killing our ability to write. It’s reviving it – and pushing our literacy in bold new directions.”


So what are some takeaways? Again, it’s important to be who you are in any speaking/writing environment. You are who you are and that’s important to maintain. However, you must also adapt your communicative approach based on your readers and/or listeners. Use the right tone, tactics, and now, technologies to convey your point (3-T Kairos). Learn to balance effectiveness with the efficiency of delivery.

In the end, we all have goals of a message: Do-outs, takeaways, new thoughts, new understanding, business decisions, relationship formation, topic persuasion, product promotion, ideal alignment, etc. We have many tools at our disposal: our posture, hands, facial expressions, sounds, volume, speed, pauses, colors, punctuation, vocabulary, the internet, social media apps, visualization technologies, our experiences, our ambitions, our uniqueness, etc. Find the best combination of tools to fit the goals and you’re in a good place to succeed.