Forms of Presentation and the Future of Comprehension
- / -
Collection of papers arising from work in connection with the Goals, Processes
and Indicators of Development (GPID) project of the United Nations University
(UNU). Published under that title by the Union
of International Associations
[searchable PDF version
Aspects of the points discussed in this volume are treated in the other four volumes of papers in the series: Policy Alternation for Development
(1984), Patterns of Conceptual Integration
(1984), From Networking to Tensegrity Organization
(1984), and Transformative Conferencing
These themes are also explored in the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential
(Munich, K G Saur, 1985, ca 1500 pages).
I. Constraints on presenting action-oritented information [searchable PDF version]
II. Language as a constraint [searchable PDF version]
III. Societal learning and the international communty [searchable PDF version]
IV. Information mapping [searchable PDF version]
V. Complexity and comprehension [searchable PDF version]
Annexes [all in searchable PDF version]
- Forms of Presentation:
report of a meeting (1979) [searchable PDF version]
- Tentative overview of forms of communication [searchable PDF version]
Biases in Thesaurus Design (1982) [searchable PDF version]
and Lifestyle Design: Characteristics of a nonverbal structural language
(1978) [searchable PDF version]
Visualization of Psycho-social Structures (1971) [searchable PDF version]
- Needs Communication:
viable need patterns and their identification (1980) [searchable PDF version]
The work on the recent papers collected here was largely associated with the
forms of Presentation sub-project of The Goals, Processes and Indicators of
Development (GPID) project of the United Nations University. Many of the themes
had however been explored in earlier papers which are also reproduced here when
The first group of papers on Constraints on Presenting Action-Oriented
Information contains different attempts to focus on the range of obstacles
to the communication of new insight concerning social change. The first paper
does this through a thought experiment whereas the second may either be taken
as humour or as a serious statement (as was done in one book which reprinted
it without the final punch lines in small print). The third paper reviews problems
in the United Nations long-term strategy to "mobilize" people in support
of its action on the problems it perceives as relevant. The fourth paper attempts
to summarize the implications of the previous papers for any new world order.
The basic dilemma is presented visually in the final paper.
The second group of papers focuses on Language as a Constraint.
Here "language" is taken in a very broad sense to clarify the challenge
of communicating concepts and distinctions between languages within the international
community. These papers were prepared for a symposium of the Union of International
Associations (Paris, 1976) in collaboration with the Committee for Conceptual
and Terminological Analysis.
The third group of papers is specifically concerned with Societal
Learning and the International Community, namely with the problems of
how the international community learns collectively and with how it may be comprehended
as a whole in all its diversity. The first paper was written for the 2nd World
Symposium on International Documentation (Brussels, 1980). The second was originally
presented to a GPID Network Meeting but was subsequently expanded as an introduction
to Global Action Networks, a classified directory of the international bodies
described in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The fourth group of papers is concerned with Information Mapping,
namely techniques for representing items of information on a "map"
in such a way as to bring out significance from the network of relationships.
The first paper was prepared at the request of the Commonwealth Science Council.
The last one reflects a continuing concern with the use of computers to plot
out such maps. This is being further explored as a way of presenting the information
in the new edition of the Yearbook of World Problems and Human Potential (1985).
A special concern is with generation of an atlas of "maps" of sections
of the network of over 3,000 problems embedded in a network of over 12,000 relationships
of different types.
The fifth group of papers considers a variety of topics associated with Complexity
and Comprehension. The first considers complexity as a constraint on
social innovation. The second draws attention to a conceptual de-patterning
device. The third paper considers ways in which comprehension might be considered
to evolve in the future and what that could imply for ordering comprehension
at the present time. The fourth explores ways of designing more meaningful "maps"
of social action through coding its complexity onto processes whose integration
is essentially more comprehensible. The final paper compares the current document
handling system to the kind of information which would enhance ability to work
creatively with available concepts.
Annexes: The first annex is the report of a GPID meeting
on Forms of Presentation. An overview of the forms of communication is presented
diagrammatically in the second. The third annex identifies 14 anti-developmental
biases which handicap current efforts to design classification systems. The
fourth explores the possibility of designing a non-verbal structural language
as a catalyst for social innovation. The fifth annex stresses the value of computer-aided
visualization (in contrast with more conventional approaches) as a means of
comprehending complex structures and processes, whether organizations or problems.
The sixth annex discusses the problems of representing and communicating complex
patterns of needs.
Aspects of the question of forms of presentation and the future of comprehension
are explored in separate volumes: Patterns
of Conceptual Integration (notably the significance of music as a model
for some subtle forms of comprehension) and From
Networking to Tensegrity Organization (which contains papers to which
reference is made in Annex 6). Many of the papers have been reprinted from the
journal Transnational Associations.
Many approaches to forms of presentation focus on audio-visual and dramatic
techniques. Without denying the merits of these, the approach explored in this
paper is primarily concerned with finding ways of maintaining the integrity
of sets of concepts when they are presented through more readily comprehensible
forms. Attractive forms are not sufficient (however enthusiastic the audience
is about them as forms) if they fail to maintain the conceptual integrity which
is the fruit of the intellectual endeavour. The concerns of the two volumes
above are therefore closely linked with this theme. In fact, together with the
volume on Transformative
Conferencing, these may even be considered as specialized supplements
to this volume.