Color, Polarization, Distributions – 3 comments

A few comments to Dan’s YW post, in no particular order.

1)  I, and I expect others, find RED as the color to signal ALERT.  Is red the universal color to signal STOP? I personally use red to both label in my calendar of DONE tasks, those activities of most importance; and in my TODO list those items I must give priority attention. I strongly object to RED being used to label negative associations, as it highlights and attracts attention to negative (for emotional first response) over positive.  I suggest you use colors that are as free as possible from other associations. I am OK with yellow and green: yellow as dying leaves and green as vibrant growth.

Although color is almost universal in developed world displays I am not sure that the new use of cell phones in other countries, such as Kenya, use color. We hope that the quality of images will improve, but that is not guaranteed. I would recommend some type of cross-hatch pattern in addition to color.

2) Two value characterization are tools – and I agree that they are often misused in creating polarization. But it is not two-value, itself, that is causing the trouble – other than it is the most frequently used, except maybe the one-valued THE (see below). The two values in complementarities, with the familiar Yin/Yang symbol or as particle/wave or determined/free – and NOT as opposites. Most people need to learn the significant distinction between complementarities and opposites.

Three and four valued systems are also just tools, and equally arbitrary – as are the four values for NETS.  Four quadrants provides a tool to facilitate thinking about the relationship between four concepts – but ANY four concepts could be used and would generate interesting discourse.  The Venn Diagram is also a useful tool and I wonder why it has been almost discarded. The Venn diagram calls attention to the interaction/overlap of the three concepts being compared. The cross-impact matrix tool of futurists can also be used as a tool when the variables become too many to be easily visualized. But, they are no more difficult to visualize as the mindmaps and other complex displays being played with today.

In that most of the systems we encounter have far more than four independent variables we are handicapped by our presentations being limited to four or five variables. George Miller’s 7+/-2 limitation of holding independent variables in mind also creates problems when attempting to represent essential complexities of reality. Vertices, faces and edges of regular solids can be used as frameworks, as the tetrahedron was recently examined here.

Our problem with the polarities of two values may be related to the way our Intuitive/Rapid/Emotional system (Elephant) is structured, as distinct from how the Rational/Slow/Conceptual system (Rider) works. Two value opposites may be hardwired into our Elephant. Haidt’s metaphor of the “Rational Rider” on the back of the “Intuitive Elephant” is useful (but also not complete).  Often we must resort to complementary systems of metaphors.  However, we can structure presentations that don’t automatically trigger emotional polarities. Much research indicates that we must first appeal to the Intuitive Emotional Elephant (which controls the tenacity of our frames) before any attention will be given to the Rational/Conceptual Rider.

3) Another distinction I believe essential in communicating complexity is to emphasize DISTRIBUTIONS (e.g. graphs) to replace the often misleading concept of NORMS or AVERAGES.   Also the highly destructive use of THE instead of A.  Politicians claim to speak for THE people about THE truth of THE economy.  An aside, Derek Bickerton claims that the first syntactic distinction chldren learn, or invent in pidgin, is the a/the distinction. This is the distinction: THE unique vs A class.

There is a strange paradox related to the inadequate use of structured visuals in almost all media, while most persons are visually oriented. And when they do, media appear to expect most people not to attend to them. For years the graphs in Scientific American lacked scales or labels for axes. I speculate that many persons transfer their fear of math to a fear of diagrams and graphs. Structured visuals require extended attention and study – a practice that must be learned and  apparently many adults have never learned it. Tools for easy creation and presentation of structured visuals have been available for over two decades. Research is needed both into why and how this aversion can be remedied.

One tact may be to display structured visuals as dynamically interactive with audio guidance. I, who like and use structured visuals, realize I need this to adequately study the structured visuals created so far for Y’Worlds. I quickly get frustrated as I don’t see why patterns there are more important than patterns missing. Coherence doesn’t come; but maybe I need to devote hours to them. I speculate that these complex structured visuals are highly idiosyncratic to their creators and don’t (yet) represent an “objective” structure. I note that persons may “like” a given structured visual  but have yet to see any detailed interaction; asking why thins and not that, etc.  I recommend experiments about how different persons perceive, process, comprehend, and report on structured visuals. Another project would be to give different people a set of terms and then compare the different structured visuals they create.

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.

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