The co-evolution of people, their "tools for thought" and their communities of practice
There are countless posts in the zettelkasten forum where people show in some detail how they use their tools for thoughts.
Here are some ideas about that.
From an abstract point of view, I like to think (in a mock formalisation) of a time dependent tuple (A, T, P, U(A, T, P))(t):
- A is the individual - e.g. me;
- T is the "tool for thought" (TFT) with its fixed features - e.g. a specific software implementing a zettelkasten;
- P is the problem A wants to solve using T - e.g. how to build a better tool for thought;
- U(A, T, P) is the specific way A uses T for solving P - e.g. by tweaking T, applying certain practices in T;
- t is the time parameter.
(As usual, this is painfully simplistic, but I wanted to make a start.)
Next, it seems natural to me to consider sets of such tupels, where different persons use different TFTs for different problems with different specific uses.
Here are a some questions I find intriguing - both from a descriptive and a prescriptive point of view:
- How do people find tools for thought they are comfortable with, and use on a regular basis?
- What is the role of institutions of education in this?
- How does a single tuple evolve in time?
- What events trigger major adaptations in the tuple?
How does the parallel use of different tools for thought T and T' influence the evolution of both tuples?
(Imagine the parallel use of paper and digital zettelkästen.)
What kind of adaptations can be done by A individually, without communicating about it with others?
- What happens if individuals A and B communicate about their insights into their personal tuples? What adaptations in the tuples of A and B are based on such communication?
- What role does the existence and the size of "communities" play - people that use the same T, or people that use common practices in U(*, *, *), although neither their T nor their P is necessarily the same. What happens in such communities?
- What factors have an impact on how people and problems are allocated to each other?
(Here is Andy Matuschak's and Michael Nielsen's essay "How can we develop transformative tools for thought?")
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