Thursday, October 14, 2004

Intimacy and knowledge

I believe in love at first sight. In terms of Richard’s trust gradient question then I come out as a leaper and bounder and in general I’d go along with that. Trust though is always (always) contextual so there can be nothing hard and fast about saying that. Trust gradient, with its notion of intimacy, seems to me to be a powerful concept nevertheless. For me, it can usefully explain one or two things.

Take POSIWID for instance. I disagree with Richard when he writes (Butterfly Effect, October 2004): If we base POSIWID on everything a system happens to do just by chance, we generate too many purposes, some of them rather silly. But if we base POSIWID on what the system systematically does, then we may generate some useful insights.

What this says to me is simply that the point you inhabit on a particular trust gradient (regardless of getting there in discrete steps or gradually) determines your view of POSIWID. Just as the view of the intimate bedroom from the non-intimate porch differs from how it is seen from the more-intimate kitchen. Crudely I see the gradient in terms of the ownership of knowledge issue that I’ve been banging on about since time began. Intimacy here implies ownership. The intimate places are where conventional wisdom lives. From the porch, I read Richard’s and Bruce Schneier’s words as coming from such an intimate place.

For me, if POSIWID could be said to have a POSIWID, it is to give us a way of looking at the world that lets us ask some emperor’s new clothes questions that intimacy might otherwise prevent being asked. It lets us check the notion for example of events taking place 'post hoc ergo propter hoc' and the inversions of logic and the compelling nonsense correlations that we’re encouraged to think of as reality for one reason or another.

Who, for instance, could have imagined that the POSIWID of a distraught father in a Batman outfit on a Buckingham Palace window ledge would be the invention of the brand new offence of criminal trespass? Or that that of an Old Testament real-estate deal would be a 400 kilometre-long wall?


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