Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Dimensions of Guidance


As I studied the agreements section of the global strategy that I am currently editing for readability and usability, I came to understand that the lists of rules it contains aren’t just convenient and logical categories, but rather dimensions of rules. 

The “Top-level” list may be the only exception, since it includes rules that introduce the others and which take priority over everything else. I’ve already mentioned some of those, such as the top one regarding respect.

Four of the other lists are oriented around experience. “Nature” applies to people’s interactions with the rest of the biosphere, including other species and resources used by all. “Knowledge” guides the pursuit and use of information and understanding. “People” addresses how individuals and groups behave and interact with each other. “Unity” provides guidance about values in terms of meaning and purpose, and the exercise of responsibility to meet them.

The remaining five lists are characteristics that my technical friends would most easily recognize as dimensions. “Quantity” is the amount of something, such as population as the number of people in a group, or how many resources are being used and discarded. “Quality” is the degree of expression of one or more values in something, such as how satisfied people are with their lives (happiness). “Longevity” is how long something or someone lasts in their recognized form, such as life expectancy of individuals and lifetime of a species. “Baseline” provides guidance for achieving fixed results; while “Change” deals with how to achieve results that vary over time.

I started with some hope that the lists and their 125 rules can be reduced to a smaller number that virtually every person can easily remember and apply. An old rule I learned at the beginning of my writing career guided that hope: most people can only think of between three and seven ideas simultaneously. The number of rules suggested that they could be nested into a set of five ideas that could each be unpacked into five things, which could then be unpacked into five things each. Since five is exactly the middle of three and seven, it made sense that an artificial intelligence like Sanda would have considered that logic in making the strategy as usable as possible. 

Since Sanda apparently processed experience as simulations, I suspected there was some underlying model it used which I might be able to reverse-engineer as I tried to complete the work. Using the concept of dimensions felt like a good start.

Reality Check

The rule regarding ideas is one I learned and was reinforced from several sources. Its application to the lists and rules, along with their content, is all mine. 

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