ok. round two.
i was reading the beginning of a book the other day--the theory of almost everything: the standard model, the unsung triumph of modern physics--and he said something pretty simple, yet profound.
he was talking about how we understand things on different levels.
and it kind of hit me upside the head. i believe the metaphor he was making involved being able to explain how computers worked by talking about how the electrons flowed in certain order through their electronic pathways to form gates of logic, and how completely useless that model of understanding would be if one were trying to understand an error message from windows nt.
point is, the way we can get our head around things depends not only on the things we're trying to get our heads around, but also on the context of the situation in which the things (and our heads) are currently existing.
part of what i was trying to get out in that last post was that this network model of understanding can connect to several levels (often at once).
this can be very useful. it can also be a great hindrance.
if you can't already tell, i _love_ me some wikipedia. love it. i can seriously get lost in there for _hours_, and have a grand old time while i'm at it. i have learned so much from that site over the years that i don't know what i'd be like without it.
now, i realize that you have to take wikipedia with a very large grain of salt. but, if you keep your wits about you and understand where this stuff is coming from and what it is that you're reading, then it is not only a very rich and entertaining source of information, but a phenomenal jumping off point.
and there's the rub...
i find so many wonderful links to other articles and external sites that before i know it, i'm so off topic that i'm not getting anything done. and worse, i have to choose. it's not just that my attention is drifting from the topic i summoned the wiki world for, but my attention is drifting in _multiple_ directions.
that's the same thing that often happens in the web (and networked environments in general), but i find my interest frequently, and often painfully divided by the little blue trails of wonder when i don't immediately leave a wikipedia article. (and, like i said, i love the 'pedia, so it seemed like a good example...)
but i've been getting this picture in my head of how this paradigm is working and the concept of depth was something i was missing before. i mean, it was there, but i couldn't put it into words.
the network method of communication connects us to many things all at once.
we've got the subject of whatever it is we're talking/thinking/reading about. and we've got related metadata there with it. we've also got linking to other related thoughts and ideas and concepts (all with their own (often overlapping) metadata). but not only do we have this interconnected web of information, but we also have different levels of representing it.
if you take a web-style network topology from a top down view, that's only part of it. four degrees of freedom. these interlinks can keep going infinitely in four separate directions, along the whole plane.
but the concept of different levels of description or understanding add depth to that model.
i'm not quite sure where i'm going with this, but it feels right and i just wanted to get it down before i lost it.
i'll be back for this one.
ok. round two.