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Essay about essays #63
The first outline of this essay was narrated by Nicky Case:
I parsed out the following 5 steps of essay writing, below.
I then attempted to follow Nicky's advice of step (2) by creating a map of the relevant knowledge, below. It possibly got a little out of hand, in that I re-read Papert's Gears of my Childhood, and read for the first time both Hofstader's "Analogy as the Core of Cognition" and Scott Alexander's review of Surfing Uncertainty, which quickly and articulately summarized the predictive processing model.
I wonder if I'm going a bit overboard here, as I tend to with such instructions as "sketch out the graph of all relevant knowledge." I'm sure I could come up with a much abbreviated version of the knowledge graph shown above in less time. At the same time, I feel like the time I spent on the above graph is the sort of brainstorming time a serious piece of scholarship requires. There are definitely thoughts or connections between thoughts that that time produced. At no point did it feel like a waste of time. If anything, I want to continue it soon. (And would have continued it this afternoon if not for lack of time.)
Producing the above diagram also begs the question of what medium would be best for this kind of non-linear, associative thinking. Clearly paper is limited in space, copy-and-paste-ability, zoom-in-and-out ability, semantic-edit ability, and collaborative-editing ability. I am aware of the mind-mapping category of software programs, but my affective mental recollection of them is restricted and clunky. I wonder if the iPad has interesting apps here. Potentially getting the pencil for the iPad would help. Here's an idea: what about Prezi? That seems almost exactly like the sort of medium we're wanting here. You can even duplicate a base Prezi multiple times and then use the copies as empty canvases to tests out multiple paths through the same graph.