Intertwingulitis: My blog moniker conundrum

Why "Intertwingularity Slice'n Dice ?"

Before continuing my little series "Wikis: The Solution for The Writer's Problem?", I have to get another couple of posts out there first, this one provide context for the next one ...

First, squirrel! (A little side-blurb about "intertwingulitis")

Just as I was trying to figure out a title for this post, this goofy thought arrived from way out in left field:
Intertwingulitis: a form of paralysis caused by trying to process an overload of intertwingled information or (intertwingled thoughts).  So kind of an intertwingling of paralysis by analysis and sensory overload.  Something like that ...
If one faces some sort of challenge, why not invent a "condition" with a fun name for it ?  And if one has an invented "condition", it might as well be hard to spell.

Now that we've got that out of the way ... 

Agonizing over the creation of a name for this blog, I turned to a Google Search of "Blog Name" for useful resources and, hopefully, some inspiration.

Although it at first felt like I had traded in one kind of agony for another, the information I found made the formulation of a blog name a fun and creative exercise.  I had a bit more of a framework to organize my thoughts.  My intertwingulitis suddenly didn't feel so harsh.  Cool.

Just about everything I read mention the following bit as one of the golden guidelines:  create a blog name that makes the blog easy to find and the URL easy to remember and type.

"Intertwingularity".  Quite the mouthful, not particularly easy to find or remember, and not particularly easy to type.  (Could the word even be played in Scrabble?  That would be so awesome, but I digress.)

Well, I really didn't have any choice there.  I just love the word, and I'm lately finding myself fascinated by Ted Nelson (his work, his life, and listening to his talks online.  Loads to blog about!)

On its own, "Intertwingularity" wouldn't cut it for a blog name (or domain name for the blog and any possible "sister" sites.)  That is just to dry for me, missing a major "je-ne-sais-quoi".  So I thought about how, over many years, I learned to deal with intertwingled information at work.

At work and for close to fifteen years, I've been using a wiki to divide  (and conquer!) information by breaking information into fragments that can be subsequently combined in unlimited ways and provide various information (various contexts, various goals, etc.)

While pondering about that, I immediately thought about food because, with my intertwingled thinking, pretty much everything is about one degree of separation from anything else.  And I started thinking about slicing and dicing food ingredients so they can be combined.  Slice'n dice !
To me, "slice'n dice" means not only to divide into "fragments", but also implicitly means to "combine" after the slicing and dicing; otherwise, if you aren't going to combine after slicing and dicing, what's the point of slicing and dicing ?
And that's my "rest of the story" ...

 (A wee nod of remembrance there of the great Paul Harvey,
for those who might not know him.) 

Wikis: The Solution for The Writer's Problem? (part 1)

GREAT! QUOTABLE! The Writer's Problem!
Ted Nelson at Trinity U., Texas, ca 1989

In this talk about writing, I believe I'm hearing the perfect explanation for why I so appreciate wikis as the simplest no-nonsense solution for documenting deeply intertwingled information.

At about the 7 minutes and 45 seconds mark, Ted Nelson begins to talk about the interconnectedness of ideas, and the challenge of lining up these ideas in one linear structure: one path for those ideas with one starting idea and one finishing idea.

So creating one structural view for those ideas, while disregarding all other structural views.

I must listen to Ted Nelson's talk a few times more, so that I can coherently paraphrase him in my explanation of how wikis:

  • help me to never get "stuck" trying to figure out "structure" when I haven't yet figured out all of the information and all of the interconnections
    • i.e. just get started writing without concern for "structure"; let structure happen organically (iteratively and incrementally) as you start seeing the information and discovering the interconnections!
  • help me fragment information so that any useful fragment of information exists only once, yet can be included in any useful structure that represents one valuable view, one valuable structural connection between a bunch of fragments.
Something like that.

The rest of this story will have to wait until free time on some weekend.  For now, bedtime for bonzo.

Cheers !

A Mind-Map for a Major Application Upgrade

Before attending a meeting to discuss a roll-out plan for a major upgrade to an application (related to upgraded development tools and upgraded client connectivity software), I decided to prepare for the meeting by putting all of my intertwingled thoughts into a mind map.

Something for me to use as a reference, so I don't wind up freezing-up trying to parse all of this in my head "on-the-fly."

Just to double the benefit of that work, I figured: "hey, why not throw that mind map in my blog as another example of how I use this helpful tool?".

BTW, that mind map created with VYM (View Your Mind) on my "linux-enabled" Chromebook.

Cheers !

Behavioral Intertwingularity ?

"Everybody is somebody's difficult person some of the time."

That quote comes the following book:

Dealing with People You Can’t Stand, Revised and Expanded Third Edition: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst

Authors: Dr. Rick Brinkman, Dr. Rick Kirschner
Publisher: McGraw Hill, 2012
ISBN 978-0-07-178152-3

Although I'm only 40 pages in, the book obviously goes beyond the simple/catchy title (which almost makes it sound like the challenges are always because of other people.)  The book quickly gets into cause and effect: how our own behavior impacts the behavior of others.

Sure, all of that may seem like common sense, but the book does a great job explaining it.

As soon as I read the quote today, I immediately saw this as an example of how intertwingularity applies to so much more than human knowledge (or any kind of information domain.)

Behavior of people, how people interact with each other, behavioral cause and effect: it is all deeply intertwingled.

Good stuff !

What happens when we ignore intertwingularity ?

"Hierarchical and sequential structures, especially popular since Gutenberg, are usually forced and artificial. Intertwingularity is not generally acknowledged—people keep pretending they can make things hierarchical, categorizable and sequential when they can't."

Ted Nelson (1987)
Computer Lib/Dream Machines (Rev. ed.)

I'm not so sure people "pretend."  I think they can, and they do make things hierarchical / categorizable / sequential.  Why?

It's in our nature.  We like things to be simple.  We like things to be neat and tidy.  We like quick and easy, and we like conveniently packaged.  We want our information like we want fast food.

We have no time for deeply intertwingled information.  We want fast information, we want abstracted information: information without all sorts of cross-connections / interrelationships.  We want to understand quickly, and move on to the next thing.  We have no time for intertwingularity.

Oops.  That sounded kind of dark/cynical.  (Oh well.  Shoulder shrug.  Sorry?)

Think of it from a business perspective:  we want easier to understand, easier to manage, easier to plan, easier to justify resources (and probably as few resources as possible), and so and and so forth ad nauseam.

But then, is there is a price to pay?  Are people looking at "whatever" with tunnel vision?  Have people lost information ?

That got me thinking:

Do big projects fail entirely, or wind up finishing late (and/or way over budget), because a process of abstraction weeded out intertwingularity and, as a result, information critical to success ?

What kind of problems (in whatever context) can we run into when we weed out (or otherwise ignore) intertwingularity ?

What kind of messes can we run into when we create (and rely on) nice and tidy hierarchies / categories / sequences ?

Oh boy, I'll be having a long chew on all of that...

A mind map of, uh, my mind

Last year at work, my supervisor directed me to start using the standard processes/workflows as the rest of the team, and I started getting more requests to attend meetings.

I had been part of another organization for about twenty years before having my old organization merged into this other organization.  Before becoming a new addition to this team, I had been a team of one with the luxury of independence and the benefit of streamlining my processes to the max to get as much stuff done as humanly possible all by my lonesome (read: agile, not fragile.)

Suddenly, and strangely to me, the change in process and the demand to attend more meetings turned into strangely huge challenges for me (they still are.)

Although the processes/workflows felt like the clock had been turned back to the early nineties, I could make peace with it all by treating it as just a problem to solve.  I'd figure out some workarounds while working within the boundaries.

So why was I still anxious about changes processes/workflows?  My first reaction was: "Oh no, have I become resistant to change?"  That really worried me.

And why would I be so anxious about meetings?  I like all of these folk, so what's the problem?

Needing to do some introspection, I dug deep and tried to relate these anxieties to other times I've felt the same way, and I tried to identify things that seem to defuse those anxieties.  Although I didn't yet know of the word "intertwingularity", I knew I had way too much interconnected/interrelated fragments of information swirling up in my sponge to make any sense of it.

So I decided to put together a diagram, a mind map of, what it would turn into, things about how my mind works:

(Click on the drawing to view it full screen)

This turned into an amazingly therapeutic exercise.  I found immense relief having the jumbled mess (the intertwingularity) in my head visually laid out in an organized way such that I could start really making sense of it.

The bonus:  this map now provides me with substantial material, to blog about.  So you and I have a fairly good idea about the scope/purpose/direction of this blog.

YES !!!

A mind map of potential future post ideas

Mind map of topic ideas

(Click on the diagram to view full screen)

I had initially created the mind map to help me understand how I managed to cope with (what feels to me like) not only information overload, but intertwingularity overload.

In addition to also providing me with a handy ready-to-post example of a mind map, this also gives us a road map for potential future posts.  How convenient is that?

FUN !!!


I created the mind map with VYM 2.5.0 on my Linux (Beta) enabled Acer Chromebook 15 (Model Number: CB515-1HT-P7WK)

BTW: I don't get any benefits, of any kind, for those product plugs.  I'm a big fan of VYM and of Chomebooks (in general, and that one in particular), so why not show my appreciation and, maybe, introduce folk to something new?