It’s crucially important to the development of humanity that we now develop Open Theory.
Open Theory is the real (but, to today, very hard to explain…) justification for LocalNames, and Wiki technology, and so on.
We do not yet (today) have a good articulation of the crucial importance of TheoryBuilding, but no doubt, one of these days, we will do so.
We do not yet know if communications can lead to a world without war; There are excellent reasons to believe yes, 2 there are excellent reasons to believe no, 3 and there are excellent reasons to belive “maybe.” 4 We will explore these reasons at some other time, stay tuned.
Regardless, Theory is basically “big explanations with words attached to things.” Theory explains what things are, and how they relate, in a way that we hope that people can come to understand, agree to, revise, and so on. It’s basically a big funnel for communication.
The majority of communications are relatively brief. “So and so said such and such, and then did X, and then Y,” and since the basic framework of what those things are, and what X and Y are, and who the people are, are simple, and understood– we all understand one another. Speak to someone who doesn’t know what those actions are, and who those people are, and so on, though, and you don’t have much luck. Hell, even if they do know those people and things, but they just know them by different names, we still have the same problem. Just try talking with someone who speaks Japanese about tables and chairs: You both know what they are, but there’s a no go. “Teeburu,” not Table.
(This should probably be turned into a separate page one day. Or perhaps “WhyTheory?.”)
It happens that people study the MetaPhysics of how people talk, of how people think, and so on and so forth.
A good chunk of it is explaining things that people already know, and just would like some words for.
A lot of it is stuff that people do, but they don’t consciously know that they do, but would agree: “Hey! That’s what I do!,” if you just explain it to them, and they go: “Oh, yeah!”
You can do a lot of neat stuff with this, such as transform consciousness with it.
Talk with a Union organizer, (like MarkDilley,) and you can see how it works: You explain the situation. You explain how the situation maps with what the person already knows. Next thing you know, the people are acting only slightly differently than they were before (saying different words to their employers, and each other,) but now they’re making twice as much money as before, or whatever. Yaay theory. It’s stuff that works.
It does things.
It’s as simple as “what you think has affects on your life.” Some people doubt this, because they haven’t seen the theories that make it clear to them. But there’s no reason to believe that, if you meet a sensible person, you can’t convince them, by explaining it to them in a way that they can quickly “lock on.”
Apologies for the brusqueness here, but it feels a little bit like explaining pre-school. That said, I shouldn’t be too haughty- it’s easy to get lost in the clouds, and forget how to explain simple stuff. And when you forget how to explain simple stuff, you often find that you don’t even remember it, and don’t understand it right. There’s a reason experts continuously and forever focus on the basics. So it’s good that I do this. This is indeed basic, and it may be some of the most important basics on this wiki.
You can transform consciousness in one of two ways: With a gun, or with an explanation. (Basically.) The Left and Liberal agenda has always been, “Let’s see if we can do it with an explanation, before the Right gets around to doing it with a gun.” The Left can usefully use the Right, as an impulse to get cracking; We can call this the “functional theory of Left & Right,” if we’re in a good mood.
I, however, am not in a good mood, because I’m describing background stuff, when what I really want to do is write about Open Theory.
Traditional Theory is manually taught in schools, it is manually taught in churches, it is manually taught by union organizers, it is manually taught at activist gatherings to hundreds of people who are gathered, it is manually taught in families, and so on, and so forth.
The developers of traditional theory frequently and regularly charge a fee. Several can get quite uppity, if you don’t pay them money, when you talk about their theory, even ..! It is my belief that SpiralDynamics? is one such group. There are many other groups that have useful ideas, and that similarly charge a fee.
This is quite ridiculous. The goal is to raise human consciousness, but you’re saying, “Oh, you have to write out a check to us, if you want to tell anyone about this.” Well screw that.
What we really need is Open Theory.
Like Open Source.
Open Theory should have the following properties:
We would like to see theory understood by everyone. We’d like nobody to need to ask, “What’s the point of having a theory?” The answer should be as basic knowledge as “How do I tie my shoes?” Obviously, an Open Theory of Theories itself is in order.
This is comparable to a massive upgrade for the entirety of humanity: You go from Dictionaries, up to encyclopedia articles, up to full Theories. It’s even possible to understand a dictionary as just a very big single mushy Theory. If you take the dictionaries from two different cultures, you have in your hands two different theories of the world, beyond the basic distinctions of “what’s your word for chair?”
CommunityWiki is a TheoryBuilding effort. Computer programming is a TheoryBuilding effort; You develop a theory of how a process works, or can work, as you build up your program. Your theory can develop over several incarnations of writing a program. Theory is an organic thing, and follows the same evolutionary trajectories as businesses and life forms and so on.
Wiki itself just sort of an attractor for theories, it affords theory production, because of the LinkLanguage facilities and other such things. This may also be why wiki affords (SocialAffordance) WikiSectarianism. Theories are sectarian. They say, “Things are like this.” That automatically excludes some contrary view, the same way that the word car excludes the word truck. Without exclusions, we’re not communicating. This is very basic, but the ParadoxOfRepresentation? can make things confusing.
Back to Open Theory.
The obvious step for the development of humanity in the InterNet age is the development of OpenTheory. Super-easy to access free theory. TomAtlee? even called it, “the singularity of explanation,” or something like that. The name is apt, the name is right: It is entirely reasonable to believe that people will learn Physics, that people will learn Chemistry, that people will learn Government, that people will learn Community dynamics, that people will learn Paradox, that people will learn Math, that people will learn Astrophysics, and so on, and so forth, at amazing accelerated rates, due to OpenTheory, OpenSource, and so on.
The explanatory power of a HyperText is high because HyperText simulates having a person next to you, answering your questions, as you have them. VisualLanguage does something similar, by just showering you with well designed knowledge, making everything much quicker, you just have to move where your eye is pointing. Simulation software more so than the above two, because you can “ask” the simulation what happens, and it can tell you far better than a human can even remember. “Would it go like X, or would it go like Y?” A simulation is a computer glued side-by-side with a theory: How awesome is that? Still further will be the development of ArtificialIntelligence, when the computer will just literally answer you your questions, complete with visual explanations and simulation attachments to play with, and explain whatever you want to know, that you trust it to teach you. I see no reason to believe we won’t get there; If we accept that people can learn things faster, and see with greater clarity, we should be prepared to accept that there are going to be billions of programmers on the Earth, many of which will be thinking deeply about stuff, and figuring out how to connect themselves together for even greater collective intelligence.
Beyond this, and we run into some tricky questions about what humans are, what they’re good for, and how we relate with machines and ideas. Here’s raising my glass to merging with the computers, and eventual upload, because otherwise, I’m not sure the outlook looks so good, though I suppose parents always die before their children do. (Or at least, they should, as Tolkein teaches us.) And I am at peace with this. But I diverge into TransHumanism.
Sometimes I’m in a hurry, and I just write.
This is one of those times.
This page, undoubtedly, requires total rewrite.
That said, it would be very helpful to have supporting pages:
Additional note, actually about OpenTheory: It does us absolutely no good if there’s a perfect theory for something, but it’s not online. I mean, we can have someone go to the library, read it, and then write it up online for us, but other than that, it simply not helping us. It may as well not exist, as far as people on the Internet are concerned. And if it’s not online, you can’t form a LinkLanguage; You have to do with references. We’re talking glacial periods of time, towards understanding stuff.
It is preferable that people reinvent the entire theory, online, collaboratively, over the course of 5 years, than that everybody be forced to go buy some stack of dead trees, in order to understand the words you’re saying.
Dead trees– just don’t do it. Not unless you have a perfectly functional easily and publicly linkable online mirror.
The situation may be well comparable to OpenSource vs. Closed Source, with all the complexities that that entails.
OK, I’m outta here.
Interesting, and important! I feel the term “theory” is a bit limited, but I don’t have a better one at hand. Knowledge? (As in KnowledgeFromDebate)? Wisdom (MakingUsWiser)? Ideology? Theory’s probably better than those, and if there’s a more appropriate word, it may be too academic.
I feel our language is insufficient; a bit like the language of chemistry a few centuries ago; if we had to explain, say, combustion to someone at the time, using terms like “fixed air” and “inflammable air” and whatnot - we’d have a much harder time than by using “terms” like CO2 and H2 and O2 (or their encoded forms: carbon dioxyde, etc.). It’s much easier to come to a unified language for chemistry, because so few people are actually using that vocabulary, and those that are are using it for specific technical applications. It would be much harder to “refactor” terms like “school” or “ideology”, “theory”, etc.
The lack of “openness” of some stuff is one of the barriers; I strongly feel that in the “personal development” / “self-improvement” field - there are hordes of conflicting systems and theories, but their business model gets into the way - they each use their own terminology, they avoid referring to their competitors, they limit the diffusion of their material, etc.
What I want about my theory:
Some of these have to do with “openness”, some don’t.
I like this page.
Well, yes, thank you. I appreciate that.
But, it’s a little too “edgy” and sketchy, and I am not yet comfortable linking to it from outside CommunityWiki.
HelmutLeitner, (or anyone else who can speak German here,):
Does the German Open Theory CMS / wiki-like-thing / whatever – does it have a set of pages that describe the sort of thing that we’re talking about here, on this wiki page?
More broadly: Does anyone know about a general project, to describe “Open Theory,” the kind of thing we are discussing here?
Emile is right- “personal development” and “self-improvement” groups are full of nastiness, and, “Oh, you can’t say that word, you’re not certified, and you can’t make a webpage about X, we depend on the consulting fees and conference fees and book sales,” and so on. It really sucks, because, for example, they totally infiltrate and subvert. You go to a conference, and everyone’s using “red blue orange green” language, talking SpiralDynamics?, but you can’t even explain what you mean to anybody online, and SD has no interest in explaining what they mean to people, or letting other people explain their interpretation, and so on. I’ve seen this before. So this is really insidious, it’s really ugly, and people have noted this before, and perhaps there’s already a project about this stuff.
If there’s already a project out there, to promote Open Theory, that’s working on it more or less “full time,” or as a major priority, I want to support those people, and use their language, and cheerlead for them, and so on.
Emile: Yes, there needs to be an “authoritative source.” But that doesn’t mean that you have to stop everyone from talking.
The Bible is considered by many to be an “authoritative source.” People have arguments about which bible is more authoritative than the other, and so on. But nobody owns it, and nobody’s saying, “YOU can’t translate it like that!” (Well, okay, there are, but we don’t do that, in our enlightened society.) It’s “useful” to have, even though there are a multitude of interpretations.
All you have to do to be an authority, is to author, and say, “This is what I think, and this is what I mean, and here are my interpretations.” People can say, “I go with that guy’s interpretation.” That’s all that is necessary. You don’t have to sue anybody who is interpreting otherwise, in order to be an author-ity.
I can see sense in trademarking your interpretation. But I don’t see any sense (except for an aggressive and detrimental-to-others business sense,) in trademarking the individual words, and so on, and so forth, in order to prevent people from talking about what you’re talking about.
Oh God; I just had a horrible imagination.
A big part of being authoritative is having a fairly unambiguous, stable meaning. “Romanticism”, for example, doesn’t, but you can talk about “What Robert Pirsig means by the Romanic mind in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” or “the 18th century Romanticism movement”, etc. A problem with coming up with new ideas is that you might end up with a lot of people using the same word for different things. So either you lock down your words with lawyers (self-help books), or you cultivate a culture of careful citations of references (academia), or you don’t care and end up with a mess (unconstrained public discourse in general - newspaper, forums, etc.).
It seems to me we have a lot of places people are talking about things, and we’ve categorized them into “newspapers”, “schools”, “scientific journals”, “self-help books”, “seminars”, “political speeches”, “magazines”, “fiction”, “tracts”, “advertisement” - and each domain has it’s own way of working that depends on how it fits into society, how the writer gets his money, etc. And now, in the internet age, all of that changes, so even the way we categorize things changes. Our current categorization still somewhat depends on business models that don’t apply as much. FreeCulture becomes possible. And I believe that for OpenTheory to work, it should use methods similar to academia, even though things may not be said the same way.
Linking to references becomes easier in internet world, but it becomes harder to ensure those references are stanble. They may be rewritten, or be erased. The WaybackMachine or versions, like in wikipedia, would be useful. Or having non-rewritable stuff like Usenet.
I disagree strongly. To be authoritative, you just need to be a trusted author.
If someone goes around saying, “Quantum Mechanics says that we’re all Telekenetic,” it’s not for laws to say, “No, it doesn’t.” It’s the job of physicists to say, “No, it doesn’t.”
The person who said that “QM says we’re Telekentic” didn’t take any authority away from the physicist. They’re standing on their own. People may get confused, but that’s their business: They should talk with the right people.
Quarks & Photons & Quantum Mechanics are hijacked by the New Age movement, in ways that the physicists hate.
But they wouldn’t dream of trademarking those terms. They may have private dreams of shutting up New Agers, but they shouldn’t do it.
I don’t think that we can just excuse sue-happy organizations in the past, who were trying to control the telling of ideas. I don’t think it’s only wrong now, I think it was wrong then, as well.
The mess is excusable. It goes like this: “When I mean enlightenment, I am referring to the Buddha’s concept of enlightenment, as interpreted by Mahayana tradition X.” What would be a real mess, is if every single organization in the world that has some idea of enlightenment means, were to trademark their individual term. I suppose we could run terminology like the Domain Name System, with registrars and everything, but I think that’s totally bogus: We do not want to raise the costs of forking ideas, which is exactly what the “language controllers” want to do: They just want to make sure nobody’s explaining their ideas but them. We need the forking of ideas. It’s not supposed to be hard to do so.
They were, and are, trying to control the telling of ideas. There’s nothing in our laws that allow for people to control ideas, quite rightly. There are patents, trademarks, and copyright. Patents are about who can apply an idea or a design. Trademarks are for the name of your business, to make it clear and distinct, who’s offering what, what it is, and so on. Copyright is for a particular text. Nothing about this is made to prohibit the telling of ideas, though.
And ownership of the telling of ideas has never been a program of the Intellectual Property industry. Hell, patents were invented in order to encourage the telling of ideas.
I personally feel that many, if not most of these sue-happy organizations, don’t have a legal leg to stand on. But I do think that they have a ton of lawyers to stand on.
Those self-help people are, quite simply, morally, ethically, and I even believe legally, wrong.
My understanding is that the SpiralDynamics? folk will threaten to sue you, if you start using the language of “Red, Blue, Orange, Green, Yellow,” and so on, to describe organiations and values and so on.
If you want to fork those ideas, then they’re going to bust you up. They’re scanning the online world, for people who are talking about those things. It seems to me that you’re justifying that behavior: “Well, they get to do it, because otherwise, there will be multiple meanings for that kind of stuff.”
But that’s not wrong. And it doesn’t take any authority away from SD- they are still the authority of their own meaning. Anybody in the world can go up to them, and say, “What do you mean by these phrases, and by this language?” Nothing is preventing anybody from doing that. You can buy their books, you can go read their web page. Nobody has stolen that ability from them.
But if I want to say, “Okay, I have a different interpretation of what those things are…” If I say, “Okay, I see your Red, your Blue, your Orange,… …but I have a different idea about what the real structure is here, that we’re observing,” then I should be able to say, “No: Red is really this.”
Or, I should be able to say, “Everything is the same, but I think that the organizational structure for Green should be understood to be X, rather than a circle of people talking.”
“Oh, but now there’s ambiguity over what Green means.” Of course there’s ambiguity over what Green means. There’s always been ambiguity over what Green means. Does everybody get the idea “right” each time it’s spoken? Have we discovered the first unambiguous word? “Oh, but I mean: You’ve taken away SD’s authority.” No I haven’t; Anybody can go to SD, and ask them, “What does Green mean, to you?” “But there’s multiple ideas out there now.” Well, that’s what we want. “But for what a word means, in a particular context.” Not really; You just need to specify your context. In fact, imagine that person A, with SD’s blessing, recites what SD says the word means. But now the group listening is split. Half the people think it means one thing, another group thinks it means another, and one person thinks it means something different. 3 interpretations, from one telling. Should we prevent these people from speaking, or even writing? Do they need to reinvent their languages, in order to talk? Or can’t they just say, “What so-and-so thinks Green is all about?”
Or shall they now make “Lime,” and say, “Lime is for mis-interpretations of SD Green,” and then (this is all hypothetical legeal requirement, mind you!) go: “Lime-X is X’s interpretation of Lime,” and so on, and so forth, never being allowed to speak about Green this way?
The whole thing is absurd, and demeans progress.
There is no conflict between being open, and being authoritative. You’re authoritative the moment you author something.
I didn’t want to give the impression that I thought that locking ideas up with lawyers was ok I don’t think it’s very worthwhyle to explore the ethical justification self-help people had in trying to control use of their terms and their ideas - especially since I’m not a big fan of their practices either. This is drifting odd-topic, let’s get back to OpenTheory.
I really, really like this page and the ideas in it. I’ve already referenced TheoryBuilding in work that I did for Stanford University. It may not be where you want it to be, but it shows one of the greatest uses for wiki technology. I believe that OpenTheory is going to be part of some real change.
A side note about the SD people. Some of them are hypervigilant, but it is more with the deeper content. If you just talk abou the levels and colors and so on, you are ok. I think the problems started when people in the Netherlands were photocopying some of their materials, and putting their name on it. But, if you really lay out a deep description of SD, you will see some of these different parties show up, very likely, as you described above. The conditions that you describe with the example “green” do exist, too, in the worlds of SD, for people wanting their version to be the version.
That is one reason why I stick with talking about the Graves intepretation, since he published his work in academic journals. Plus, some people in academia really won’t take me seriously if I talk about SD, because of some of the language in the SD book, which is kind written for management consulting markets. So, I would say you can talk about green, red, etc pretty freely. But, if for instance, you read the SD book, or certain publications by certain people, and really started laying down the deep parts of the theories as they’ve written them, then you might see these people show up with cease and desist orders.
But, that does not invalidate your main point in your comment above at all, and SD is not the only example of hypervigilance in this domain. Although, there are starting to be better and more open attitudes among some people in academia, as you see some people create open wikis around their books with Creative commons licensees, and have a far more lax attitude about the discussion of their work in public.
I think a lot of people are going to be saying something like: “but Lion, if you open the theory, then how are you going to make money off of it?’
And, I think that one of the ways to make money off of it is to do something with it, that simultaneously helps people learn it while applying it. Besides, even a ClosedTheory? business model is really just a slow opening, because once the genie is out of the bottle, you can’t really run around and control it, unless you have a fascist government on your side. This is something worth considering for our discussions in Open Content Business Models wiki.
So, in short, I totally agree with everything you have on this page. I think it is hugely important.
Being interested in several facets of this _ topic.openTheory _ …
Thank you for expressing your interest in the subject.
I’m not sure about the concept of this page. Maybe it contains more than one idea, mapping to different terms.
When I read “open theory” the I think “open science”, meaning that all knowledge should be available to all. Maybe knowledge should be useable by all. Maybe the process of creating knowledge should be open for all to contribute. In general, compared to history (secret knowledge, books kept in monasteries), we are not far from that goal, any science - even a patent - has to be published and at least after a while - science immediately, patents after about 20 years - it becomes free to use for all. Also general participation is in principle possible, the only problem is that people feel that they are not heard when they havn’t first got a rank in the scientific hierarchy, some credibility, which is of course tedious. But the same is true for all media. Even this wiki not free for everyone to write what comes into his mind, no wiki or medium can be that open.
But our decisions are often less based in knowledge and science but in world view. Although on relativists and constructivists the difference may be lost. Anyway, a person or group can try to develop a world view (a theory, a language) according to their preferences or needs. It can try to have this the NPV way, although I don’t think that this will work. If everyone should be able to contribute, then different views are not only inevitable, they are what it is all about. If one would agree to existing science statements, what is the sense of participation? Participation is about adding something new.
I’m sure that the subquestion “(can) communications lead to a world without war” ? can be answered by “no” but I’m sure that communication can help to solve problems … and I’m sure that a world without problems is a world without war. So, all is about solving problems. The term “theory” in the way it seems to be used here, refers to language, more exactly to “pattern language” which is a problem solving tool. A pattern is “a solution to a problem in a context” and a pattern language is a collection of pattern together with the process knowledge to make use of them. Currently there is no way to create a universal pattern language that includes all solutions to all kinds of problems. The development will probably lead to hundreds of pattern languages for certain application contexts (architectural patterns, software design patterns, online community patterns, teaching patterns, …) and maybe different competing ones for different cultures.
So in the end all seems to fit together. Only the quest for OpenTheory doesn’t seem to fit in because I do not see that the current situation (wiki communities) is lacking with respect to openness or ability to build local pattern languages or theories. It’s perhaps only that the quality of what we are doing is not satisfying, maybe we are not focused enough.
On the other hand, when we do not agree that PatternLanguage or PatternLanguageCommunity? is what we are seeking for, then OpenTheory might be a more general term to stand for that need. But why should people agree on that specific term as a label to some "final solution”? It is so general that it can’t specify a method or a specific goal anyway.
Yes, that’s what pattern languages and pattern theory are all about.
Ok, that was my misunderstanding. It’s more concerned about groups creating protected or licenced languages. Obviously such attempts are not helpful because the actually hinder the reuse of problem solutions. This has a place in pattern theory as DarkPattern or AntiPattern.
I’m not so sure about that. This is like someone singing a song and saying “I’m not making music”.
The practical application of patterns is not “pure” in the sense of “every concept talked about must be a pattern”. It’s a perspective to look at things which also offers terms for many phenomena. If you say “photon is not a pattern”, I’d answer “why should it be?”. In terms of PT (PatternTheory) it is a “center”, a structural element in space and time. This is a general system theory term for an arbitrary “element” but more general, for it’s also used for structural elements that do not exist (for example “a void” like in the center of a balloon) or for “latent centers” that are about to be created or could be created potentially. A “center” is a label for everything that one can perceive, name and remember. If we are looking at man-made systems, then centers often exist for a reason, they have a function, and can then be perceived as solutions to problems, as patterns.
PT is a new kind of making science, a new way to learn, methodically. But at the same time it is not new, it was always present, but not as a conscious method that has been used systematically. Just like people did experiment and thought about causal explanations long before there was natural science as a profession an institution … and long before Popper created something like a first working concept about where science ends and metaphysics begins. Consciousness is long behind practice.
PT of course uses other scientific ways like logical or causal-mechanical thinking, too.
Perhaps one should write about what is the primary concern, about DarkTheory. Probably then it would become clear what a theory is and how we want theories to be.
Oh, I guess this reopens the book on “PatternLanguage” for me, then.
My internal chronology goes something like this:
It’s late, though, and, as much as I want to continue, I need to go to sleep.