Of jigsaws and boats without dry-docks – a new friend via Zoom

The “All Our Yesterdays” project is finally working (thanks to all the new followers, btw, and especially those retweeting). By “working” I don’t mean fame, fortune, influence, a book contract, podcast interviews, adoring acolytes and groupies (though some of those listed things might be nice). I mean I am in touch with people who have overlapping takes on the world, who have different perspectives and knowledge hinterlands. So, it becomes a question of “have you read, have you seen, but what about x, y and z?” Yum yum!

Just come off 80 minutes of Zooming with a new friend. Lots to chew on. But I heard myself – after comparing his intellectual journey to Siggie Freud before and after World War 1 (having to come up with ‘death instinct’ to make sense of what just happened) – to a new (to me at least – (1)) metaphor for how we do sense making.

You’re working on a jigsaw. You think you know what the picture is, because of what is on the box.

But it turns out some joker has put your pieces in a box that has a similar picture, and it is confusing af.

So you have to rely more on the pieces themselves, and how they do or don’t fit.

But wait, there’s more.

Some (other?) joker has made the pieces into proper shape-shifters – they change colour, contour, ad they do this more when you look at them. Others wink out of existence when you touch them, back to your/their past (turns out you’re a Weeping Angel: Who knew?).

It’s a new wrinkle, I realise as I write this, on the Paul Kelly lyric from his 1987 song “To Her Door” which has obsessed me all my livelong life – “Could he make a picture, and get them all to fit?”

I also found myself trying to describe the plot and the puzzle of the film “Cube“.

This is our sense-making challenge, on a good day. But so much (seems to be) changing so fast (2)

And as for the boat without dry docks, well that’s just Neurath, innit?

We are like sailors who on the open sea must reconstruct their ship but are never able to start afresh from the bottom. Where a beam is taken away a new one must at once be put there, and for this the rest of the ship is used as support. In this way, by using the old beams and driftwood the ship can be shaped entirely anew, but only by gradual reconstruction.

What do people think? Comments on wordpress, or Twitter if you must…

Footnotes and self-caveating.

(1) Quick google gives this – Deep Learning is Like Building a Jigsaw Puzzle

(2) Every generation seems to think this of itself – the alternative is to see yourself in a backwater. The evidence, on technological change, is mixed – see this nice Wikipedia page

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