More than a Delusion

Here is a recent response about the nature of the wiki, a discussion sparked by an essay by Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen: How can we develop transformative tools for thought?

Yes, indeed, Ward, this is an important find.

Since the first day we met, I sensed something to uncover – something very important. I trusted that sense and dove in – deep into the heart of what Kay and others sensed but struggled to explain.

Words may fail us in explaining this work, for as Matschak writes: >To the extent that such a tool succeeds, it expands your thinking beyond what can be achieved using existing tools, including writing. The more transformative the tool, the larger the gap that is opened. Conversely, the larger the gap, the more difficult the new tool is to evoke in writing. But we know that experience does not fail us. But I wondered if that experience could be shared with others, abstracted from the original medium of the wiki. For only then would we know that we were on to something big.

That is what I sought to do with the book, one that had organically emerged from the experience of writing in the wiki. Could I translate that experience into a familiar medium, a bounded book, that held the essence of what I had experienced in the wiki? Could I tell a compelling story in a way that might entice the reader into a garden in which they might make their own meaning through a non-linear exploration guided by curiosity? For this white space of the creative imagination is where I sensed others might experience this "new level of thinking" that Kay talked about – that creative experience of Xanadu in Coleridge's Dream.

It is heartening to me that this experiment may have worked. Here are some early reviews that I found on Amazon, ones filled with "feeling" that feels authentic:

>This book is for everyone, not just educators. The Dayton Experiment bravely introduces a new way to learn from books and it totally works! There are three main sections, The Story, The Garden, and The Path. The Story pulls back the curtain on why change is needed in our schools but the storytelling is intimate in a way that provides personal development opportunities along the way. The Garden is my favorite. It's a place to explore new concepts and proven tactics on how to become a "changemaker". As Thompson states, "A truth that gives us the courage to continually walk through our fears into joy." Becoming a changemaker requires volumes of courage.

>This book is amazing. I LOVE the format. It feeds my soul buffet style!!! It’s easy to read and digest yet allows for deep reflection wherever you need it. If you are passionate about education, learning, collaboration, innovation, becoming a better version of yourself and discovering YOUR why... read this. You will not regret it.

This book, then, was a test of what Matschak calls a new "functioning cognitive model", perhaps similar to one that he seeks – one freed from the limitations of the Cartesian Mindset.

I have to admit, I have sometimes wondered if what I saw – what I experienced – in this journey was a delusion. I am sensing that, perhaps, it was not. Indeed, that we are onto something big. Matschak provides further confirmation.

I would suggest that there are three great challenges in front of us. One is the experience: how might we learn from Matschak's experiments to have the wiki feel more elegant, given all of the new tools in the belt? One is the power: how might we continue to go deep into the functionality of the wiki to see how we can increase its ability to help us see and tell stories, particularly those defined by data flowing from complex systems? And one is the context: how might we explain this new experience within conceptual frameworks that allows us to articulate a new 'functioning cognitive model', perhaps something akin to Metanoietic Consciousness?

I am focusing on that last flag, one that challenges me to integrate Whitehead's framework with those of Piaget, Friston, and others. I hope that from this exploration a new book will emerge to help others understand the importance of the work that we are all doing together.