Learning Log | 3 March – 10 March

Using diagrammatic thinking to figure out what to report on.

Using diagrammatic thinking to figure out what to report on.

This week I have been exposed to these external influences. Paper : Systems dynamics and systems thinking, Soft OR, Jay W.Forrester | Paper: System behaviour and Causal loop diagrams, Jay W.Forrester, M. Senge |  Book: Surfaces and essences Douglas Hofstader  | book: micro interactions, Dan Schaffer  | web article: http://tinyurl.com/odajf29 (Diagrammatic Thinking Alexander Gerner) | web article: http://tinyurl.com/p2c5enb (Buddhism, emptiness) video: Mobile UX (Luke Wrobleski) | Charles S. Peirce, Manuscripts on Existential Graphs, | Social event: KaosPilot. A whole bunch of Swiss and Danish people.

From the above mentioned influences, there were three over arching influences this week which have influenced me and made me dive deeper into more of an understanding of thinking, communication and patterns.

This week I started working for the Western Cape Government as a Usability Architect . So, I would say my mind was more focused on figuring out how to incorporate all tasks into into something workable and palpable . In this time I noticed that I was in a heightened state of observation, in all areas so that I could figure out how to incorporate everything in and still research something I was truly passionate about. While this was an incredibly busy week of external interactions with the world, I feel like there were more internal interactions and analysis going on.I recognised that I had spent most of my time analysing what I was doing, rather than getting any ‘real’ work done. I think the reason for this was because I was trying very hard to recognise an emerging pattern or constellation of how everything connects to each other. Where are the overlapping areas?I noticed that there was not enough clarity in my thought, so I was unable to recognise where parts where overlapping. Similarly to last week I had been visited by way too much anxiety. So, once again I stepped backwards and decided to look at where thinking, innovation or creativity would step in and start to come up with an evolution or new idea of this reality.

 “It is by searching for strong, insight-providing analogues in our memory that we try to grasp essences of the unfamiliar situations that we face all the time – the endless stream of curve balls that life throws at us. The quest for suitable analogues is a kind of art that certainly deserves “vital”, and as in any other for of art, there seldom is a single right answer. For this reason, although proportional analogies may on occasion be gleaming jewels of precision and elegance, the image that they give of the nature of analogy-making is wildly misleading to anyone who would seek the crux of that mental phenomenon. “ Douglas Hofstader ,Surfaces and Essences, Pg 33 |

This week I have been a lot more mindful about, language, visual images and conversations. In Surfaces and Essences, Hofstader claims that our language is made up of analogies. We create these analogies to figure out what someone else has experienced. In other words, when we are talking or listening to someone, we use our imagination to understand them. We either interpret what they are saying through our own experience or we user our own experiences to help them perceive what we are trying to articulate. I noticed that this was particularly interesting when meeting new people. There are no established precepts yet. There are no patterns or clusters of information which have been created together to form a standard set of understandings. The only reference of the person in front of you, is everything you have experienced within yourself. It’s almost as if we’re constantly going through self-actualisation through the recognition of images, conversations and recognition of behaviour in others. In my interactions with others I noticed that I was listening from my own understanding of the subject, so that I could find meaning for myself. I was trying to understand the exchange of analogy. Similarly, Dan Schaffer speaks about the construction of metaphors in User interface design, in Microinteractions.

“Everything we see or hear while using digital devices is an abstraction. Very few of us really know what’s happening when we use any kind of software device. Just as examples, you’re not really putting a “file” into a “folder” and “email” isn’t really arriving into your “inbox.” Those are all metaphors that allow us to understand the interactions that are going on. anything you see, hear, or feel that helps you to understand the rules of the system is feedback, the third part of micro interactions. “  Dan Schaffer ,Microinteractions, Page 37 |

This is similar to what Hofstader mentions above. Our communication streams are bundled up pieces of pattern or code which we have at one point in our life experienced and we have stored it in our hard drive for a later instance. This is also how we deal with absurdity, by mix matching all of these preconceived patterns into different orders to figure out or create our reality.

 “We form in the imagination some sort of diagrammatic, that is, iconic, representation of the facts, as skeletonized as possible. The impression of the present writer is that with ordinary persons this is always a visual image, or mixed visual and muscular [ … ] If visual, it will either be geometrical, that is, such that familiar spatial relations stand for the relations asserted in the premises, or it will be algebraical, where the relations are expressed by objects which are imagined to be subject to certain rules are, whether conventional or experiential. “ Charles S. Peirce, Manuscripts on Existential Graphs, CP 2.778.

While reading this statement it also made me think of Usability testing with interfaces, from my understanding 70 % of users would say to me in a test.“ I’m a very visual person, I like to understand what I need to do by looking at a picture. It’s just easier .”  It always amazes me that almost everyone I have encountered in a usability test says that.Since figuring out how to create causal loops from last weeks class, this excerpt really resonated with me in a new light. It made me think of the state I was in at the beginning of the week. I was trying to grasp through the abstract absurdity of situations to look for a solidified visual perception, understanding or recognition so that I could report back, in this very learning log. Of course, the way I came to understand this, was by drawing a diagram about it.

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