Tag Archives: experiential learning

The Catch

Lucy

In my unstoried softball career I’ve enjoyed two periods of defensive excellence. Excellence counted as not making a circus of the routine. The first was between 1977-1984, an era during which Bob Buckeye and I locked down center and left field for the Abernathy Special Collections challenge team. during that time, Andy Kirkaldy was at the hot spot, and he was the best short stop I ever played behind. I turned thirty in 1984–heck, thirty years ago–and turned myself into a volleyball hero for the next ten years.

(Ironically, blessed with good hand/eye coordination and a crafty mind, volleyball was the only sport I ever was really nicely fit to.)

The second period started in 2002 at the time I once again trotted out to left field; this return came, after 18 years. Luckily I kept my giant Rawlings glove, a xmas gift from around 1970. Free Play Softball gave me a second life as an outfielder at forty-seven years of young. In October of 2005, I suffered the most serious on-field accident any of the Free Players so far have experienced when a line drive and a low sun and a momentary lapse in my attentiveness worked together to land the ball between my eyes with a fearsome thunk. Blood everywhere. $6k hospital bill.

I would like to report that in the next year, in the new season, I shook this off. In actuality, I was terribly snake bitten for the next three seasons. Although I consistently played left field from 2006 through 2011, and while I basically still can catch almost anything hit within my shrinking range, my own review of my skills is harsh. I’ve become slow. My signal strength remains but its being combined with a loss of velocity measures my decline as an outfielder–well, I do turn sixty next week!

I’d be a really good first base person, my original softball position back in 1970, but, nowadays, I do my damage in right field or as the roaming outfielder.

Free Play Softball

Close game this week. Funny stuff happens. Our Sunday games are not–how to put this–over-determined. If we’re sometimes careless about the handful of nuances, such as mentally simulating what might happen next time the ball is put in play, still, the nuances that gently hold the miniature dramas in our oft performed theatre of the momentarily absurd remain in great hands, in everybody’s great hands.

“Bring something incomprehensible into the world!” – Gilles Deleuze

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The Precarity of the Estimate

Free Play Aug 4

This week, with the game on the line in the top of the last inning, the visiting team smartly aimed their offense at a weak spot in the infield and ended up with one single, one runner on base by error, and three successfully fielded ground balls. Outlier!

Then, needing a run to win with two outs in the bottom of the last inning, and bases loaded, this same fielder came up with his bust-to-boom hitting approach and pumped a pitch 300 feet for the walk-off win.

One run  game. Ideal obtained!

FreePlayRoster-Aug4

A simple example will show the nature of this difficulty. Consider some ball game played by a few people of approximately equal skill. If we knew a few particular facts in addition to our general knowledge of the ability of the individual players, such as their state of attention, their perceptions and the state of their hearts, lungs, muscles etc. at each moment of the game, we could probably predict the outcome. Indeed, if we were familiar both with the game and the teams we should probably have a fairly shrewd idea on what the outcome will depend. But we shall of course not be able to ascertain those facts and in consequence the result of the game will be outside the range of the scientifically predictable, however well we may know what effects particular events would have on the result of the game. This does not mean that we can make no predictions at all about the course of such a game. If we know the rules of the different games we shall, in watching one, very soon know which game is being played and what kinds of actions we can expect and what kind not. But our capacity to predict will be confined to such general characteristics of the events to be expected and not include the capacity of predicting particular individual events. Friedrich August Von Hayek

As the Free Play Softball handicapper for ten years, social systems/human cybernetic theories provide me with critical perspectives, none of which impact my ability to obtain the ideal of handicapping: a close game. Such perspectives are meta-related (second order in a cybernetic sense,) to the game at-hand. They allow me to not only be a participant/observer, but also to be informal analyst/ethnographer. Crucially, at least for my peace of mind, I can step back and consider the interplay of domains in the game but not of the game. Another consequence of how I view my role is: I make out line-ups knowing beforehand that any line-up possesses characteristics of some kinds,and, doesn’t possess characteristics of other kinds.

For example, line-ups do not possess the characteristic of embedding the eventual outcome of the game within their flux of estimations and generalizations.

They do reflect an on-the-spot generalization of a quick reconnaissance of performative variables. However, I know going into the exercise that the actual dynamic interplay of many player’s regression-to-the-Mean with the outlying performances of a handful of players is enough to falsify any hope for a close game, and realization of a game that objectifies actual parity. I make a very informed effort to design a close game and yet close games, decided by three or fewer runs, are comparatively rare.

(I have had occasion to point out to a few of the several players who monitor my handicapping track record that outlying negative performance of the better players and exceptional performances of the mediocre players tends to be more decisive than the mean performance of mediocre players.)

Other players theorize the line-ups. Player’s folk theorizing doesn’t bother me because I understand the double framework of the performative system: the Meta-system is focused by its norms and heuristics–a line-up is a heuristic–while the phenomenal system instantiates the precarity of performance. The latter system cannot ratify idealized estimations. Idealized estimations are heuristic; what players actually do to implement the five skills (hit, catch, throw, run, remember where they bat in the lineup,) is part of the phenomenal–enacted by experience–system.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Free Play Softball League for me, the inveterate researcher, is that I assume most players think meta-thoughts about the game and these in turn refer at least loosely to their cognition within their own contextualizing of their individual Free Play experience. I don’t know anybody else’s detailed specific system-making, but I do know how I contextualize the game. Players may regard the heuristics, regard their phenomenal experience of the game, and reflect upon and make connections between the two fields in completely different ways. There is something of the black box in this, but also, the line-up–which after all is a quasi-economic object too–is established to be the main totem of anticipation of outcome.

The line-up is a charismatic object, and along with this come, at times, a projection onto the handicapper which holds that in some direct way the result of the game is embedded by me (!) in the line-up. No, most times my estimations and generalizations, aimed to achieve parity, are falsified.

What allows me to put up with line-up related guff is my understanding something about the math of precarity in human systems.

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Some Days You Eat the Bear, and Some Days. . .

Free Play Softball

Except for the inveterate rebels, everybody took off their hat to let the sun light up their face

Buddha softball

Life is like heady wine.
Everyone reads the label on the bottle. Hardly anyone tastes the wine.
Buddha once pointed to a flower and asked each of his disciples to say something about it.

One pronounced a lecture.
Another a poem.
Yet another a parable.
Each outdid the other in depth and erudition.
Label-makers!
Mahakashyap smiled and held his tongue. (Only he had seen the flower.)

If I could only taste a bird, a flower,
a tree,
a human face!
But, alas, I have no time.
My energy is spent deciphering the label.

(h/t Anthony DeMello)

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Fun By Design

free play with friends

I started playing Free Play Softball in Cleveland Heights in 2002. It brought me back to left field for the first time in eighteen years. (I had spent the interim playing the only team sport I was ever really good at, volleyball and grass doubles volleyball.) Taking up softball again brought back memories of having previously formulated two-thirds of a lockdown outfield with Bob Buckeye as member of the Abernathy Special Collections Library ‘challenge’ team at Middlebury Collegebetween 1976-1984.

What changed for me between the ages of thirty and forty-eight? Slower. The hand-eye coordination always was my ace capability, but you have to get to the ball first. I never was a terrific hitter, although the scratch stats I’ve been keeping ever since the Hawken School intramural league (in 1971-1972,) indicate, at least, consistency. Yet, last year I figured out a missing piece of the craft of hitting and reeled off the hottest eight weeks of singles hitting ever, at the age of 58!

Today, opening day, I mention these personal tidbits because in ensuing recaps, as is usually the case, I will focus on being one of the key organizational developers of the weekly game. This is the oblique way of putting the following: I carry the equipment in my trunk, I store it over the winter, and, since 2004 I have been making out the line-ups with an eye on creating the conditions for equitable play. With all those tasks comes awesome obligations and presumptions of ritual and instrumental power. These features have long gone to my head, and to, especially my big now old Scots’ heart.

Everybody wins is my goal.

the odds

Learning to Play, Playing to Learn
A Case Study of a Ludic Learning Space

Alice and David A. Kolb
In this paper we propose an experiential learning framework for understanding how play can potentially create a unique ludic learning space conducive to deep learning. (full paper pdf)

excerpt:

History of the [Free Play Softball] league
In the mid 1970’s, Case Western Reserve University organized an intramural softball league from different departments and fraternity groups which have been competing ever since on a regular basis. The Organizational Behavior Department organized its own team made up of faculty, staff, students and family members. Overtime, the games became increasingly competitive and aggressive, and the OB team, which was much more inclusive when it came to its member composition (composed of men, women, and physically disabled individuals with varying skill levels) found itself at disadvantage playing against highly skilled, competitive, intramural teams.

Born out of this experience was the desire to create a league independent from the competitive intramural league, where anyone would come together to play just for the fun of the game. David, one of the founders of the game, remembers his motivation to start a different kind of league because “softball was too much fun to be left only to those who could play well.” In essence, those words summarized the vision for the pick up softball game and so the league was born in 1991. The league met every Sunday morning from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm at the baseball field of the University campus. The season began on the first Sunday after tax day in April and ended at the first snow in November. David provided the softball equipment and took it on himself to haul the balls, bats, gloves and bases and set up the field every Sunday morning. In the early years the term “league” may have been a bit grandiose for the game. The participation was random and sparse, not enough to make up two teams. Regardless of who or how many showed up, members played catch, hit balls, practiced fielding. Those for whom softball was a new experience learned the rules of the game as they played along. There was no designated coach or manager, or team captain for that matter; those who knew how to play helped those who were new to the game. As membership grew, and the converts regularly showed up, two teams were made up, sometimes five on each side, other times seven. Only after several years was the full complement of ten players on a side reached, and then only occasionally in the middle of the summer.

In 1995, the game was moved to a new softball field within a neighborhood park close to the University campus. Following the move to the new field membership began to grow not only in its size, but also in its diversity by gender, age, ethnicity, socio- economical background, and softball skill level. What had started out as a fairly homogeneous population of OB faculty, students, families and friends, began increasingly attracting local residents who found out about the game from different people and sources. Over time, new players joined from other counties, some of them taking a forty five minute bus ride to the ball field. Guided by the league’s founding vision, “fun softball for all,” everyone was welcome. In the fifteenth year of its existence, the league adopted “Free Play Softball League” as its official name, celebrating the special occasion with anniversary shirts and hats.

The Free Play ball field was in a grass park next to the city baseball fields. Unlike the impeccably manicured city league fields, the Free Play field was poorly maintained with no score board, lights or dugouts. The home plate area was particularly a mess, with weeds growing behind the base and the deep indentations in the batter’s box. The backstop was old and torn at the bottom. It was almost as if the Free Play league existed in the shadow of the city league, unnoticed by the city, or by the neighborhood community. The “league up on the hill,” as the Free Play members used to call the city league, was a highly competitive softball league, with die hard aggressive players pushing each other to their limits to win the game. As Lebron would say, pointing to the city fields, “over there, you get out there every single time to kick ass and beat the other team. It is not like our league.” In the Free Play league, we played a different kind of game.

Old-School-free-play

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Teaching Cartoons: Instrumentality 1 & 2

Instrumentality

Instrumentality-1-WoId

Samurai Prayer

I HAVE NO PARENTS;
I MAKE THE HEAVENS AND EARTH MY PARENTS.

I HAVE NO HOME;
I MAKE AWARENESS MY HOME

I HAVE NO LIFE OR DEATH;
I MAKE THE TIDES OF MY BREATHING MY LIFE AND DEATH.

I HAVE NO DIVINE POWER;
I MAKE HONESTY MY DIVINE POWER.

I HAVE NO MEANS;
I MAKE UNDERSTANDING MY MEANS.

I HAVE NO MAGIC SECRETS;
I MAKE CHARACTER MY MAGIC SECRET.

I HAVE NO BODY;
I MAKE ENDURANCE MY BODY.

I HAVE NO EYES;
I MAKE THE FLASH OF LIGHTNING MY EYES.

I HAVE NO EARS;
I MAKE SENSIBILITY MY EARS.

I HAVE NO LIMBS;
I MAKE PROMPTNESS MY LIMBS.

I HAVE NO STRATEGY;
I MAKE CLARITY MY STRATEGY.

I HAVE NO DESIGNS;
I MAKE INTUITION MY DESIGN.

I HAVE NO MIRACLES;
I MAKE RIGHT-ACTION MY MIRACLES.

I HAVE NO PRINCIPLES;
I MAKE NO-AVERSION MY PRINCIPLE.

I HAVE NO TACTICS;
I MAKE EMPTINESS AND FULLNESS MY TACTICS.

I HAVE NO TALENTS;
I MAKE READY WIT MY TALENT.

I HAVE NO FRIENDS;
I MAKE MY MIND MY FRIEND.

I HAVE NO ENEMY;
I MAKE CARELESSNESS MY ENEMY.

I HAVE NO ARMOR;
I MAKE BENEVOLENCE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS MY ARMOR.

I HAVE NO CASTLE;
I MAKE IMMOVABLE-MIND MY CASTLE.

I HAVE NO SWORD;
I MAKE ABSENCE OF SELF MY SWORD.

Samurai Prayer

 

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Four Square Matrix – Metaverse Four Square

Metaverse Unfolds

The explanation for this Four Square Matrix is below.

(I’ve been exploring the format of the Four Square Matrix for over five years on the squareONE Explorations blog: Revisiting the Matrix Part 1 / Class of ’72 / Periodic Table of Visualization, And More / More Matrices / The Acid Test / Matrices – Stacked / Slowing Down to Better Problem Solve)

(SOURCE) To construct our scenario set we selected two key continua that are likely to influence the ways in which the Metaverse unfolds: the spectrum of technologies and applications ranging from augmentation to simulation; and the spectrum ranging from intimate (identity-focused) to external (world-focused).

• Augmentation refers to technologies that add new capabilities to existing real systems; in the Metaverse context, this means technologies that layer new control systems and information onto our perception of the physical environment.

• Simulation refers to technologies that model reality (or parallel realities), offering wholly new environments; in the Metaverse context, this means technologies that provide simulated worlds as the locus for interaction.

• Intimate technologies are focused inwardly, on the identity and actions of the individual or object; in the Metaverse context, this means technologies where the user (or semi-intelligent object) has agency in the environment, either through the use of an avatar/digital profile or through direct appearance as an actor in the system.

• External technologies are focused outwardly, towards the world at large; in the Metaverse context, this means technologies that provide information about and control of the world around the user.

These continua are “critical uncertainties”—critical because they are fundamental aspects of the coming Metaverse, and uncertainties because how they will emerge, their relative and absolute development in various contexts, is yet to be seen.

Combining the two critical uncertainties gives four key components of the Metaverse future:

Virtual Worlds

Mirror Worlds

Augmented Reality

Lifelogging

These four scenarios emphasize different functions, types, or sets of Metaverse technologies. All four are already well into early emergence, yet the conditions under which each will fully develop, in particular contexts, are far from clear.

The source document at Metaverseroadmap.org provides the context and additional provocation. This would be most compelling for students of the history of technology, and socio-anthropologists interested in modernity and post-modernity. Download the PDF available there for the full view of the working group.

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Between Anarchy, Hierarchy, Bureacracy; and, the Minimus Link

Free Play Players

I spoke to the gang about arriving at the field on time. Offering how it would be neat to commence play close to the traditional ten o’clock time.

How about arriving in a timely fashion, or, agreeing to complete seven innings and go past the traditional noon ending time?

Could we collectively reclaim the principle of playing a full game? Is this year’s collective attenuation of the traditional ten-to-noon time slot a problem?

The Freeplay Sunday Softball league remains an experimental design in practice. The Drs. Kolb have theorized the game mightily, while I have only partially theorized it. And, different than the Kolb’s emphasis on the game-as-learning-space, I’ve had to approach it in terms of its explicit pragmatics, and approach it also as the alignment of these (to a degree) within the concrete action space–out of which game play is evoked every Sunday. It would be accurate also then to state I’ve had to approach it as a once-a-week problem of repeatable organizational development.

My conscious role is to capture the projective identification collectively commensurate with having the minimum authority to assist the initiation of the game. This is an obtuse way to describe the flow of leadership features being pushed upon me and pulled away from me, ending up predictably as enough of a leader to help instantiate the game. This role is connected to predicates, and the most substantial four are: the equipment is stored in the trunk of may car; I make out the line-ups and have done so for nine years; I voice the necessary commands to shift the players to the next step of the initiation of the game; and, I am a willing and sticky enough egoic character with respect to those aforementioned projections.

I was away from the game for four weeks and the requisite authorities were recreated and put upon replacement characters, and this was accomplished without fuss.

After I communicated my entreaty about arriving on time or playing seven innings, a miniature discussion ensued. Several persons stated the noon ending time would remain their ruling assumption; one person stated there wasn’t a problem anyway; two people reminded that we often play six or seven innings in less than ninety minutes. I ended by reminding the entire group that “I could do in the future the experiment of starting on time with whomever was here.”

Whatever.

One player came up to me and suggested, “You’re the boss so you can do what you want.”

Well, yes to a degree, and, ‘no’ to a much greater degree.

I understand my temporary authority has to most rigorously attend to the minimal set of verities. I am one of the principal stewards of those verities. They are marvelously concrete too. The essential one reflects the truth of: commencing the first pitch, batter, play of the game!

After the first pitch, under normal circumstances, my authority fades away, having fulfilled the slim portfolio of duties.

Interestingly, this is given by my privileged perspective–after all, I am one of only a tiny group of participants who have implemented an intentional [1] third order [2] viewpoint; am one of the few who reflect on the game and step back from it and theoreticize about it.

I’m not the boss. Theoretically, my role can be described as mediating the practical Object Relations within the holding field of the game’s ritual space. This way of putting it captures theoretical concerns. What then could be told of the practical way projection works in the matter of holding group concerns together so that group objectives may be predictably achieved every Sunday? It’s OD.

The actual phenomena is much more complicated. None of our group wants me to disrupt the internalized flow of predictable anticipation to bring to their attention a problem of so-called organizational development. The status quo is partly primitive. Don’t bother ‘it!’

Oh, what’s he on [us] about now?

Actually, I go into this, knowing I am in a better position, as against the group, to voice my individual concerns. Nobody had come up to me to ask me to advocate for more group sensitivity to the game’s temporal parameters. My prior experience has been that we may complete seven, eight, nine or more innings of free play softball should we commence the game around ten o’clock. My own view is that more play is better than less play.

However, here is the gist of our case of organizational development: whatever I deem optimal for myself is just so, for myself. Although I could approach this soft need as a group problem–and I did so–what I found out was that it wasn’t a group problem at all. I didn’t smoke out any alignment [3] with my concern at all.


[1] implication of intentional is a determined, directed, effort, rather than the more informal ‘folk-psychological’ and tacit efforts presumptively deployed by players in directing their own efforts to make operative sense of the softball activity when experienced as a meeting of different other minds, so-to-speak

[2] selecting apt analytic/interpretive frames (3rd order) having reflective experience of (2nd order) direct experience (1st order)

[3] a minimus link: given by supposing any need to use organizational development for the sake of obtaining new optimal goals do require maximal linkages.

Learning to Play, Playing to Learn: A Case Study of a Ludic Learning Space, Alice and David Kolb, The Journal of Organizational Change Management (2010)[pdf]

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Revisiting the 2×2 Matrix – Part 1.

Never Wrong Matrix

What I term a ‘four square,’ or matrix, derives in modern times from The Boston Consulting Group’s Growth-Share Matrix. I devise my own four squares and collect any others I encounter. At times the 2×2 Matrix in either its ‘cross’ or ‘four squares’ versions have done duty in my work to help depict human situations. For example, I have employed the following one and used it as the basis for a learner to reflect upon the challenge of having it both ways.

Dr Puck' s problem matrix

MDFI Matrix aka Dr. Puck’s Problem Solver

Such visual devices have come to be known as 2×2 Matrix. The essential book on the use of the 2×2 Matrix in business, The Power of the 2×2 Matrix, presents authors Alex Lowy and Phil Hood’s understanding of the tool’s value as an aid to decision making. The Power of the 2x2 Matrix They write:

2 × 2 Thinking is inherently and profoundly transcendent in nature. Two people face an identical problem differently: one sees an insurmountable problem, while the other perceives options and opportunities. Systems thinker Jamshid Gharajedaghi calls these two approaches either-or versus both-and. Confronted by tough choices, the either-or reaction is to feel trapped and obliged to pick one or the other. The both-and response draws us automatically to a new and different perspective, where it is possible to search for ways to reframe the problem or use conflicting factors in the solution.

2x2 Matrix

The Institute for Manufacturing at The University of Cambridge describes the matrix yet misses two central capabilities, the use of the 2×2 Matrix to plot values, and, the implicit relational dynamic given in the identification of what in this description is termed characteristics.

A two by two matrix is a useful tool for initial sorting of qualitative data.

The axes should be chosen so that, e.g., the data with the most desirable characteristics will fall into the upper left quadrant and the least desirable in the lower right quadrant. While groups may be unable or unwilling to assign absolute values to qualitative data, they usually find it relatively easy to come to a consensus as to which quadrant something belongs in.

Generally, the two by two matrix is a useful tool for categorising things that can be reduced to two simple variables, particularly when quantitative information is unavailable and qualitative judgements must be made.

It enables a rapid clustering (or separating) of information into four categories, which can be defined to suit the purpose of the exercise. It is particularly useful with groups as a way of visibly plotting out a common understanding or agreement of a subject.

2×2 Matrices I’ve found, from the growing collection:

Robotics Matrix

Inscrutible Robotics Matrix

Social Media and Business Qualification Matrix

Management Matrix

Unsatisfying to me, “Management Matrix”

I devised the following to depict the tension of oppositions betwixt four entangled philosophical themes.

Unity Matrix

The 2×2 Matrix is a very Batesonian device too. I haven’t beta tested a workshop during which learners build a view of their self (or what-have-you,) using the format, yet, it seems a good idea!

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Predicting Iran’s Future

Iran Women & Girls

One day Rabi’a needed a piece of cloth, so she gave a man three silver coins to buy one.

After he’d already started his way, he turned back.

“My lady,” he said, “I forgot to ask: what color do you want?”

“So, it’s become a question of color, has it?” she replied.

“Give me my money!” And she threw it into the Tigris River.

Version of Rabi’a of Balkh; in Doorkeeper of the Heart, Charles Upton


The objective of this exercise is to observe the materials, then contemplate, the most negative possible answer to the following question:

What events could constitute the most horrific unintended consequences of a war between Israel/United States and Iran?.

You might as well own those thoughts yourself; as long as very few less thoughtful people want to indulge thoughts like the kind you could have. Now, of course, it is not like anyone should want to have those kinds of thoughts, but, before the arrival of the terrible bloodletting, it is a point of hope and hope against those dastardly “worse cases/any cases” that at least a self-chosen minority look into a darkened future.

The diverse materials presented here last about six hours.


Hossein Omoumi-Classical Persian Music from John Melville Bishop on Vimeo.

War on Iran? (Part 1 – Larry Everest) from PPJC Videos on Vimeo.

Iran: the danger of war, the role of sanctions and the tasks of Hopi from Communist Party of Great Britain on Vimeo.

War Fever: Iran, the Middle East and the U.S. from Media Education Foundation on Vimeo.

Fareed Zakaria intervista Zbigniew Brzezinski from U.S.N. – R.S.I. on Vimeo.

War on Iran? (Part 2 – Stephen Zunes) from PPJC Videos on Vimeo.

Moyers & Company Show 111: Moving Beyond War from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Middle Eastern Sacred Song (Piyutim): From Pulpit to Pop Chart from Rothko Chapel on Vimeo.

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Wondering and Wandering

Meta-Cognitive Wandering This is an inscrutable picture. I like it.

The backstory for this post contains several slices. My friend, Linda Kahn, the great dancer and choreographer sent me a article, from which I’ve extracted the following.

Of course, eventually wondering must cede place to positively-intentioned action, but the more deeply we engage in the preliminary stage of ‘wondering’, the better able we are to reach the positive intention stage. And we can be positively-intentioned about wondering and letting the unconscious mind do its thing.

At its heart, the process of wondering is hypnotic, and that is why it is so powerful. This is why it’s so valuable to develop the skills of wondering alongside the more recognized skills of more obviously strategic and sequential thought. And it can make life so much more interesting! How to use the power of wondering – by Mark Tyrrell, Uncommon Knowledge

Karl Weick, one of the main thinker/wanderers in the background of my own outlook, in a different context, coined the term, ‘galumphing.’ This means to walk around and not pay so much attention that other stuff is missed. The point of Taoist walking meditation and what I term ecological, (or Batesonian,) observation differently emphasize wandering/wondering through the at-hand environment in a manner in which the observing context is subservient, or serves, the observed environment.

As a researcher and student/scholar of fortuity, random and pseudo-random social-cognitive interpersonal processes, and, chance construction, it’s simple enough to note the speculative, loosened, wondering divergent sensibility may be more efficacious in a strategic sense then intentionally convergent strategic thought.

Well, wonder about and wander around this if you wish–I know I do.


I go trawling in close to completely serendipitous ways for intriguing graphics using Google and Bing and other image search engines. One way to do this is to tack on +diagram to any other kind of search. The results are often surprising and edifying.

Dualistic-Monistic

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Know Your Box

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A tweet skidded by: outside the box is just another box. The challenge moving outside “the” box is taking the same thinking with you. So: a problem of how more than a problem of where is this outside. Another way to put it is how do you know you’re outside; how did you get there; what did you bring with you, and, then a crucial move would be, how would you know you’re in a new box?

My basic “meta” approach with respect to deploying applications for the sake of activating outer moves is to disrupt the familiar or well-structured or resistance-free initial tactics; you know where the outer move is made as a matter of the learner being confident he or she knows how to get outside the/a box. And, yes, my practiced approach constitutes its own box.

Successful venturing outside the box, for me, comprises getting outside outside the box, and the quality of this venturing I’ve observed to signal some portion of discomfiture, as if visiting an unknown, even alien land.

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Teaching Cartoon: Puppie Plot

Doggie Plot

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Free Play Puddle League

Pete Swings

Pete “the body” lines up the pill. Pete, incidentally, is a lock for comeback player of this Free Play season, seeing as he’s recently acquired two bionic hips. Sunday was likely the latest we’ve ever enjoyed our first full complement of players. ighteen eventually rolled in and the contest ended up a roller coaster ride. We’re quite resourceful, and have been especially so in a season in which we’ve played four times with anywhere from ten to last week’s eighteen players, amidst four rain outs. Although players get to bat a bunch in five-on-five games, the sixth players adds the first baseman, and, the seventh adds a right fielder. So far one constant is the soggy field peppered with puddles.

Free Play Squad - May 28, 2011

Free Play Squad - May 28, 2011

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Never Two Be Seen – Two Coyote Stories

I.

Coyote’s wife dies of an illness and he weeps for her. He is visited by the death spirit who offers to take him to the land of the dead if Coyote will follow his instructions. Coyote agrees. On their journey the spirit points out a herd of horses. Coyote cannot see the horses but he pretends that they are there. Neither can Coyote see the death spirit. He appears to be a shadow. When Coyote and the death spirit arrive at the land of the dead the spirit invites Coyote to eat some berries. Coyote cannot see them but pretends to eat them nevertheless.

The spirit leads Coyote to a lodge and tells him to enter through the doorway and sit down beside his wife and eat the food that she has prepared for him. Coyote cannot see the lodge, the food, or his wife, but he obeys the spirit. When night falls Coyote sees the lodge that he could not see during the day, and in it are fires, and people he knew when they were living and, of course, his wife. With the dawn, everything and everyone disappears, only to return on the following evening. It is like this for several days and nights.

Eventually the death spirit tells Coyote that he must leave. The spirit allows Coyote to take his wife with him but warns that he must not touch her until they have crossed the fifth mountain of the five mountains that lie between the lands of the living and the dead. Coyote agrees. Coyote and his wife begin their journey. At night they sit with a fire between them and Coyote notices that with every night his wife’s form becomes clearer. On the last night of the journey Coyote can wait no longer and reaches across the fire to embrace his wife. She disappears the moment he touches her.

The death spirit returns and tells Coyote that because of his foolishness the practice of returning from the dead will never be and that the dead must remain forever separate from the living. The spirit leaves. Coyote tries to return to the land of the dead, repeating everything he was instructed to do on the first journey: he pretends to see a herd of horses, to eat berries, to enter a lodge, to acknowledge his wife, and to eat the food she has prepared for him. When evening comes the lodge, the fires, the people, and Coyote’s wife do not appear, and they and the death spirit never appear to Coyote again.

II.

Two Coyotes were going upriver and came to a big bench. From there they saw people living below, near the river. Then the two friends said to each other, “you go ahead.” Then one says “No. You go,” and the other said “No.” And they argued and protested for a long time. Then one said, “You go first they will see you any moment and say `there is a coyote.’” They were going on the trail. [The other said] “I am not a coyote.” [The first said,] “But you are just the way I am. We are the same in every way. We are both coyotes.” [The other said,] “No, I am just `another one.’” In this way they argued.

Then the second one said to the first, “You go first.” There was a ridge on which people could see everything from below. When he [the first] started walking, went on, and went over a small ridge, the people below said, “There is a coyote going upstream.” Then they [people] came out and watched the coyote going. “See?” he said. “See what they said? You are a coyote.” “Come! You too.” he said. “They will say the same of you. You are a coyote.” “All right. I will go” [said the other], and he also slowly started walking on the trail from there. Then [people said], “Ah, another one again. There is another one.” Then he came to the first, saying, “See? I am not a coyote. I am `another one.’ See, the people said that I am `another one.’” That’s all.

source: paraphrase by :Larry Ellis, Trickster: Shaman of the Liminal, SAIL Studies in American Indian Literatures; Series 2; Volume 5, Number 4; Winter 1993

(republished from Transformative Tools blog)

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Spring Training Is Over

Matt batting at the end of last season.

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Matt speaking before the start of this season.

Freeplay Softball League and experiment

Sundays, 9:30am, Forest Hills Park, Cleveland Heights

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Periodic Table of Visualization, and more



click to enlarge

Visit the following link to access the pop-up examples for each of the Periodic Table of Visualizations‘ cells.

I’m fond of graphical ways of showing relationships between concepts and domains.

Here’s a few more depictions from my own archive of helpful visuals.

Powers of ten

Scales on pseudo-symmetrical \’U\’

Arthur S. Young\’s two fundamental developmental \’turns\’

Fourfold (Anthony Judge)click to enlarge

Spiral Dynamics-AQAL Collage


click to enlarge

Warren Matrix

DrPuck's problem matrix

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Stop Boxing

Ralph Waldo Emerson om experience

When I’m working playfully in my squareONE transformative learning mode, I’m always doing a version of the following experiment, here defined as its hypothesis:

Given experiential engagement of a novel process and its novel set of data, the learner will be moved to discover insights as a matter of his or her exploration within the field of this unusual process and its unique data.

There is a ‘meta’ hypothesis, surrounding this too: that such insights are not easily derived from other “non-novel” varieties of engaged learning.

My hypothesis has been proved in one-on-one work just about every time; maybe 90% of the time. In groups, where the facilitator–me–cannot apply experienced guidance evenly, the successful demonstration of the validity of the hypothesis approaches 50%. I’d estimate in groups of six or less, the success rate is around 75%.

What is being proved is that novelty is a powerful source for transformative learning. There is a third instance of novelty: the learner’s approach. I understand this to be the learner’s ability to move beyond their most naturally familiar and often habitual approach.

My guidance is fit to the challenge of gently compelling the learner’s shifting their approach to a novel one. I could go on and on about the various obstacles in the way between a learner’s familiar approach and something innovative. Likewise I could describe the facilitator’s skills!

I’ve learned a lot about what characterizes the elite learner in this kind of process. These kinds of learners combine, in different measures, the qualities of openness, playfulness, creativity, and, its clear to me such learners often have some prior experience with inhabiting a different perspective.

As well, negotiating innovative approaches can seem to be easeful where the learner possesses a deep, personal culture. The consequential effect of this is that the learner has some prior experience with, and has practiced their own flexible, (third order,) capabilities. Another way to describe these kinds of capabilities is to say the adept exploratory learner uses a practiced, diverse, repertoire able to be used to explore in novel ways a novel process and its novel data.

In my ‘soft’ theorizing, from observing such learners, it is apparent they can bring to bear on experiential learning what I term, g>a doubled-double loop learning; (the third order referenced above.) This is a style of engagement in which a third, or meta order, comes into play. Not only can the learner re-adapt their approach in the real time circumstance of the process, the learner also can navigate a variety of means for doing this, so, the adaptation found in the so-called double loop is itself subject to a further selection from an overarching ‘meta-loop,’ or, in my terms, diverse repertoire.

An example of this is when the learner uses symbolic data discovered in the novel data set to modify their approach to the data. This secondary data is used to alter their scheme in manipulating, etc., the primary data.

It is possible to point out, or cue, some of these possibilities to less practiced learners. This move goes like this: instead of suggesting ‘Have you ever looked at this other way?’ the suggestion is, “Have you ever looked at how you look, when you’re looking to look, at it another way?” But, this is would be a very unusual move for me to make. (I do not risk pulling the learner into my world, so-to-speak.)

From my perspective, the point is not to get outside the box, it’s to get outside of boxes.

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Teaching Cartoon. Top This

Top This 1

(source: Zen Forest Sayings of the Master, complied by Soiku Shigematsu)

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Brief, Not Very Olsonian Reflections: The Prize

On Saturday I was chosen to cap a conference, Soul In Buffalo; A three-day free conference aimed to celebrate and explore Charles Olson’s legacy and extension through A Curriculum of the Soul.

This honored closing position expressed a counter-intuitive programming choice, because I am not an Olsonian. Yet, obviously, since I wasn’t going to weigh in at the end with poetry, poetics, research, or scholarly fireworks, I was, nevertheless, given the opportunity to bring some other set of capabilities to bear on the proceedings.

What I could do and what I did sort of manage to do is bring the conference to a close on wings of experience and play and collaborative grappling with a very simple creative problem. Taking this creative problem first, I asked the group to participate in a squareONE tool, Hunting and Gathering, and use it to bring several explicit things into greater focus, and, as well, bring whatever the process might evoke into their collaborative field of experiential play and creativity.

The more conceptual group playing with the Gods

I will tender the explicit things momentarily. What might of happened references what is my usual way of facilitating Hunting and Gathering. This usually happens within a slice of time able to support my gentle guidance of an experiential process to its important goals. Those goals exist on a continuum stretched on one end between learning with enough gravity to support testing or further experimentation, and, on the other end, learning which is galvanizing to the point of an a-ha.

Yet, this time out the time slice ended up being compressed to about an hour. As Idries Shah once put it, “time takes time.” So, with this lessened time I quickly had to make a few strategic decisions. This has happened on a few occasions in the past, but I have never intentionally turned a finely tuned process into a grand experiment–as I ended up doing on Saturday.

I framed, (or ‘primed,’) the group’s experience by introducing several factors, in the form of musings. I told the group I wasn’t an Olsonian, but had come to this conference by virtue of remarkable serendipities having to do with encounters with friends-who-were Olsonians. Then I very briefly pointed out that soul might have something to do with creating together via relationships, and using as its raw stuff the discoveries found in exploration. I hoped the experience I was offering would drive some into the experience of soul in real-time. And, my personalization brought up what seem to me an essential feature of soulful working together: its human contingencies are fragile, and yet, are loving too.

(I recognize here my prejudice too: deep soul is very human, rather than very esoteric!)

The sharpest suggestion I made was this: whatever learning comes to happen may be referenced in his or her reflection on a personal intention I had them generate. However, in my strategic alteration of the process I understood going in to it, I would never learn anything about their learning.

The love network group working and playing.

What unfolded was pretty damn amazing, even by my experienced standards. I do not debrief my work for all the world to read and see, but it is enough to tell of a quickening vibration that rose like heat waves off a desert.

The Prize.

I had split the group into two sections and both worked on their collaborative graphic. The differentiation of approach, as I felt it and as I mused over the ‘consequence of approach,’ was very telling about challenges not much spoken of in the two days of stunning contributions I witnessed. The general challenge is about how various bodies of work come to persist, be sustained, grow, and, in the soulful turn, come to have positive effects on the growth of consciousness as this is individually rendered in the alchemical cooker of devoted, unsparing, deeply humanized, relationship.

oiled snake
psychedelic reverb
straight no chaser

spot your choices

still have to live
alive among
each other

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Reduced Bateson Set I. Set Up; Meta-heuristics

Bateson-Mead-Bajoeng-Gedé

Gregory Bateson & Margaret Mead, Bajoeng-Gedé, Indonesia; photograph by Walter Spies

Sometime ago, yet late in my scatter shot intellectual development, I realized five problems fascinated me in psychology. One is the problem of how our brain instantiates and substantiates consciousness. Two is how it came to be that the equivalent of a William James doesn’t arrive much earlier so as to shift proto-psychology forward at an earlier stage in history. This problem wonders about the relationship between culture and contemporaneous psychological categories. The third problem, related to the second problem, is coded (for me) as the problem of introspection. The fourth problem is coded too, as the bundle of problems given by folk psychology at the level of meta-psychology; ie. philosophy of psychology.

And, finally, the fifth problem, very much related to the fourth problem, is the problem of: everyday behavior joined with how psychology’s different disciplines approach everyday behavior as its object of research. I am especially intrigued by how behaviors are named despite those same names being unnecessary to persons behaving in the way the name denotes.

I will seek to explain what I call The Reduced Bateson Set in a series of posts. The Reduced Bateson Set names a framework I utilize. Meanwhile, from an authoritative source:

For the moment, the set-up for this was evoked by my trying to figure out how to describe what is The Reduced Bateson Set. I was moved to look up the definition of heuristic–or rather a definition–in a standard reference book, because I thought this might be the best descriptive term. If so, I could simply say The Reduced Bateson Set is a heuristic I have come to use and favor.

I didn’t think the term was strikingly adequate, inasmuch as I had a deviant definition of heuristic in mind.

According to the now prevailing definition, heuristics are rather parsimonious and effortless, but often fallible and logically inadequate, ways of problem solving and information processing. A heuristic provides a simplifying routine or “rule of thumb” that leads to approximate solutions to many everyday problems. However, since the heuristic does not reflect a deeper understanding of the problem structure, it may lead to serious fallacies and shortcomings under certain conditions. Thus, in contrast to the positive connotations of the original term, the modern notion of cognitive heuristics has attained the negative quality of a mental shortcut that frees the individual of the necessity to process information completely and systematically. Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Psychology

Okay, my definition turns out to be a bit too innovative! But at least it doesn’t imply a ridiculous optimal “problem solving.”

More precisely to the point here, is how rapidly I landed in a Batesonian moment. Unfolded in the encyclopedia entry is a long treatment of the term, yet, it’s not describing much about what I wish to also describe. And, the problem could be that it could not describe even what it seeks to describe–in a deep sense able to capture something very very common.

What is this something? It is that some large portion, possibly a majority portion, of human behavior is “heuristical.” Which is to suggest: it is likely a majority of human problem solving, leaarning, discovery, etc., everyday, (every darn day,) processes information incompletely and not systematically. Also, a corollary to this is: some large portion of human problem solving cannot access both a totality of pertinent information, or, have been the subject of a complete processing within, I suppose, a formal requirement for complete and systematic processing.

Wikipedia’s entry is not robust, but it is more satisfying.

Heuristic (pronounced /hj??r?st?k/) or heuristics (from the Greek “???????” for “find” or “discover”) refers to experience-based techniques for problem solving, learning, and discovery. Heuristic methods are used to come to an optimal solution as rapidly as possible. Part of this method is using a “rule of thumb”, an educated guess, an intuitive judgment, or common sense. A heuristic is a general way of solving a problem.

Except I will quarrel with it too. I don’t know the correct term for that which is a precise and focused heuristic way of solving particular everyday problems. Yet, I do understand the ‘human everyday’ presents a series of opportunities to problem solve, learn, and discover. Figuring out what you’re going wear is a particular problem, and a problem I’d suppose is solved in precise and focused ways.

(Perhaps a differentiation made among general, and, ‘problem-particular,’ methods is unnecessary.)

Among, (what I will term Batesonian,) distinctions found in definitions is this hot one. First, to develop a correct definition is itself a problem to be solved. Could it be demonstrated that any given normative (or authoritative) definition was created, subject to heuristics? Here of course I’m speaking of an example, the definition of heuristic. A second Batesonian distinction is implicit in speaking of the possible heuristics behind the term heuristic.

Here’s a doable experiment. Collect five of the foremost social psychologists together and have them each write out their definition of the term, heuristic. Assume there is a sound method for scoring to what degree the five definitions match up. For my argument here, let’s assume the result of this experiment shows a very high degree of matching.

The five world class experts are then asked to do the following: “How do you know your definition is the correct definition?” Score the answer.

Let’s do this same experiment and add the following parameter. Before either primary question is addressed, each group member is asked the following: “How many pages will you need to answer the question, How do you define heuristic?” Allow no limit in length for their written answers.

Hypotheses are to be entertained. I won’t offer these, yet I will suppose the results of this experiment will
demonstrate considerable disagreement on question number two, How do you know your definition is the correct definition, and this disagreement increases the longer any answer is to either question. So, the most disagreement would be found between the longest answers.

There’s a problem incurred by my supposing the answers could be scored. How would we score different points of emphasis? Those points could not be scored as only disagreements. Still, our scoring would have to resolve this problem in reckoning with matching points of emphasis and divergent points of emphasis.

My hunch that there would be found disagreement is, obviously, completely a matter of a decidedly intuitive and heuristic approach to thinking about the problem of defining a normative term. What I’m thinking about here is the human system able to develop useful definitions about its own features. The experiment might well defeat my hunch. But, what if the experiment proved the underlying hypotheses?

What then could be suggested by the results of this experiment about hypothesized deviations from agreement? What also could be suggested about how the problem of expert definition is approached by experts? Do these experts employ heuristics as an effective, or not effective, means?

Consider a countervailing–with respect to my hunch–supposition. That: in a description, where detail increases, deviations are reduced. (Speaking of building houses: we can all agree on the sharp nail and the straight board.) This suggests that as descriptions penetrate ‘down’ to more elemental levels of order in a system, deviations between descriptions are reduced.

My hunch asserts the opposite is possibly the experimental result. So: as experts expert in the same system propose descriptions of this system, as the level of detail increases in their descriptions, their descriptions will tend to diverge.

Again, a countervailing supposition might be rooted in the same idea given in the Blackwell encyclopedia: to define a system correctly, and so free the definition from any reliance on heuristic means, this definition must result from a complete and systematic process that reflects deep understanding. However, even if this is true as a matter of commonsense, it is also true that this brings with it the same problem. When we think about the means via which we could shape and amplify convergence, we’re still confronted with this move also opening up to the opportunity for divergence. Surely if you asked five experts in the same field how to promote greater agreement about the field’s conceptual fundamentals, in most fields their answers to this “how” question would prove to be very divergent.

When I walk this back to everyday circumstances in which terms/names/concepts and their concomitant definitions are facts of innersubjective assumption rather than innersubjective negotiation, I’d be even more confident that a similar experiment would verify my hunch.

Actually, I informally test this hunch all the time. The main paradox I’ve discovered in doing this is that people speak about shared concepts, (and these concepts implicate shared systems,) without really caring about whether they share the same definitions for these shared concepts. They likely do not share the same definitions! That this underlying disagreement hardly comes to matter is a fascinating element of ‘folk psychological’ behavior and of what could be called intersubjective heuristics.

Consider the beneficial efficiency gained from being able to talk about systems all the while disagreement about basic stuff is underfoot. Whenever I hear the word socialism in our contemporary political discourse, I’m reminded of this paradox of effectiveness.


The Reduced Bateson Set is a heuristic of the kind that are structured and demonstrably pragmatic. The Reduced Bateson Set is my private naming of a pragmatic structure for working through the experience of observing and participating in, learning, inquiry, and dialog. This structure is useful in other interactive circumstances. I’ve named it so because it is my appropriation of stuff reduced from the partial set of Bateson’s ideas I know.

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