- Wally Reimer
- Calgary, Alberta
The vagueness of words prevents us from achieving the collective intelligence we need to solve our social and political problems.
Words are vague and imprecise. Their meaning is as much a function of the listener’s connotations and experience as it is of the words themselves. Engineering has long abandoned words as the basis for their collaboration. Compare the progress of engineering in the last 100 years with progress in democracy where most collaboration is word based. How can we collaborate if we don’t share a clear understanding of the problem and proposed solutions?
Our mind has evolved over millions of years but words are a very recent addition. Our primary thinking is not word based but we need to translate it into words to make it conscious. Engineering thinking is object based so drawings and blueprints are a good way to represent it. Political thinking is concept based and we need to represent the underlying concepts before we translate them into unclear words. We have the technology now to use a richer deeper set of computer symbols to represent concepts as precisely as a blueprint represents a skyscraper. We have 7X24 access to computers and much of our collaboration already flows through computers but in word form.
I have labeled these proposed computer representation of concepts as conceptual objects. It is not obvious what these concepts are but I believe we can discover them and create the tools we need so we can collaborate much more successfully about social and political problems. If we can do this then we can begin to use many of the methods which make engineering so progressive. These include specialization, encapsulating complexity, incremental improvement, re-usability and asynchronous collaboration.
There is a white paper at http://www.scribd.com/doc/52522752/When-words-are-not-enough which explores this idea further.
Words are comfortable because they allow us to generalize but we can’t generalize when building important social and political solutions.