Patterns: Smallness

Hey friends, those who actually read my blog (thanks!) – I’m starting this new post type to more…accurately represent how I think. But I need your help.

I think I’m not alone in this tendency – my mind naturally frantically tries to find echoes of a new idea in all its various corners. It’s as if I don’t know how to compartmentalize; when I hear something in sport, I think – what does that mean for politics? For economics? For history? How can I understand everything from every perspective?

So, patterns emerge. I start to see some uniting factor, some commonality across disciplines, domains, parts of my brain.

But most times, this energetic rewiring of the brain happens within minutes, sometimes seconds. And it disappears soon after, and if I try to explain to myself how a particular idea from Medicine has ramifications in Marketing, I can’t anymore.

So, to capture those few moments of discovery and revelation, I’ve started to write these…poems? I don’t think they are poems. But my attempt is, in that moment, to capture what is going on in my mind succintly, trying to make my fingers keep up with my own mind’s furious pace.

After the fact, I will go back into the text and hyperlink the various ideas to sites/pages/videos/images that I’m referring to, or explain what I’m talking about. What I hope to do is to have links to a diverse set of pages, thereby, hopefully, to create real links among a diverse set of ideas.

So – can you have a look at this first draft? Tell me what you think, if it needs more explanation, or less, or if you have any ideas about how I can better communicate/capture this? I was thinking diagrams, but how do you make diagrams in wordpress?

Have fun reading, clicking! I think it’ll be pretty entertaining.

Patterns #1: Smallness

Small communities have typically been easier to manage,

Morality and health flourish,
When people know each other,
They police themselves, guide the whole
They don’t need an external … –
Well, CCTV is a symptom not of increasing crime,
But of a weakening social structure,
Because cities have expanded beyond what
Police can handle,
Technology (as always, hmph)
Has a great panoptical solution:
Put cameras where you can’t be.
It is just like in the classroom.
Teachers shout themselves hoarse
In huge classrooms of 40,
When Sugata tells us how a group of 4,
Can teach itself so much better,

Otherwise how would a huge flock of birds
Fly in sync? In a pattern?

Why do we need a government,
When humans, like birds, are in pursuit
Of some basic needs: food, shelter,
Migration during winter –
We keep trying to grow larger and larger systems
That are clunkier and stupider,
Need more and more checks and balances,
When all of it can be captured,
In the small, interpersonal,
In simple interaction rules that self-organize
Self-govern, always work,
And have continuous,
Like those learning organizations that preach,
Lesser top-down control, and more autonomous work groups,
Flatter hierarchies,
Knowledge sharing but never centralization,

Like programmers now use Java
So it’s platform-independent,
So they create value in their own groups,
Which is transferable on any platform,
Without the need for a central control.

Is it control we seek?
Are we growing this web of systems,
So we have better control?
Or is this inflation of bulk
Just an indication of our ever-loosening grip
On our own destiny?
And instead of making smaller and simpler principles of living,
We seek bigger, more efficient enforcement systems.
It’s an evolutionary arms race equivalent, but in personal life
People : nations :: police : army,
We are forgetting the basics,
And solidifying the huge.

And more and more,
We will feel,
That in this gross unnecessary web,
We will keep outsourcing our tactile experience,
Of humanity,
Which perhaps has always existed
In the everyday expression:
In the kind gesture, the MRT seat gladly given up,
In the love for God or another human being.
In the smallness, where we still guide our own ships,
For ourselves and our communities,
And we depend on our own understanding,
Of ourselves and each other
To govern us.
Governments by the people for the people of the people –
Should’ve meant we don’t need any.
We ourselves are it.
Because while Constitutions can be amended after
Tedious (rigorous) bureaucratic process
They cannot be evolved,
Like the human mind, and heart, and soul,
Which change with each new experience,
Forever more mature than they were in the previous instant.

Then why do we let –
Archaic, static, elephantine, Byzantine,
Systems, processes, machines, organizations,
Run us?
They’re too big,
And “growth” by it’s very nature is a negative value,
Especially if it’s just outward growth,
While the inner life remains stagnant.

How do we create a world,
Of simple truths and laws,
A world that would look a lot like physics,
Which perhaps is the only community
That still seeks unity,
That rewards the combining of ideas,
Or even better, the disproving of ideas,
The elimination of the superfluous,
Because they, still, know,
That the smaller, simpler version
Is the more beautiful one.

That’s what she said.

Song, and lyrics translation:


One thought on “Patterns: Smallness

  1. Yes, you ain’t alone in this tendency 🙂 Mine are too jumbled and am also working towards streamlining them!! But then again these are thought tiring enough to even think of in passing; deconstruct what you see, what you think you see, unlearn what has been learnt over the years, trace the links, simplify, connect the complex, you zoom in too much it blurs, you zoom out too much it blurs… perspective and balance are simple words with complex applications. And how simple can simple be or how stupid/intelligent can simple be? how complex can complex be or how stupid/intelligent can complex be? And then again, how holistic can holistic be? 🙂 Patterns exist, its how you have train yourself to identify them. As armature design thinkers and system designers we always ask ourselves ‘Are we designing solutions or are we designing a new set of problems for future?’ coz what we see as a problem today is a solution someone came up with in the past! Everything evolves.
    Not sure if we are on the same page here, but you made me hear the song with a different perspective all together! 😀
    You’ve beautifully untangled the tangled thoughts with your writing here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s