3d maps and tangents

this page started as a follow up to a livejournal entry - I've quoted most of the bits I'm referencing, but the full story is available here.

:: nat: and my tangents go off for longer and longer and longer
:: so that only I can follow where I was
:: when I spontainiously go back to where I was
<snip>
:: barakta: yeh i struggle to follow nats tangents when i am tired
:: because nats will rerfer back to something said AGES b4 in conv as if it was prev thing said
:: nat: that's because I'm multi-threaded
<snip>
:: nat: my mind is just a whole hoard of 'threads' which all desperately want to comment on the conversation and give their opinon and comment on what I'm already saying and comment on the comments etc

the funny thing is, I do something that looks very like that same tangents thing, but for me the underlying reason for it isn't anything I'd call multi-threading. although it might look like multi-threading.

There is this thing in NLP about the way people think, and some people having "visual" as their main way of thinking/imagining, and others "audio", and others "kinaesthetic" (i.e. feeling). & you can get clues about people's thinking in how they talk, e.g. "I couldn't picture that" or "I hear you" or "I felt it was time to...".

Well I have "visual" as my primary thinking channel, and for me it's a very 3d spatial kind of visual. (which I'm sure is part of the reason I'm so drawn to sign language - it's in my natural medium :-) )

(kinaesthetic is my second-most-used channel. which is supposed to be odd, because there's this idea that musicians are supposed to be audio-primary people, but in fact, when I write music, a lot of the process of that manifests as a sense of space in which the notes are arranged.)

and when I'm thinking about something, it's like this 3d landscape. (a little bit like a mind map, though not exactly the same.)
and so when I'm describing what I think/see, I can jump all over the place and for me it all connects, because all the time I'm talking about it I'm present to the "big picture".
but for another person listening who doesn't map in that way, sometimes they're like "huh?" because the linear links are missing between point a and point b, and so to them it just sounds like an overwhelming number of disconnected statements.

now that doesn't mean I can't communicate with people if I want to. in fact the 3d landscape is also a very useful way of mapping how other people think so that I can talk in a way they can understand. so when I'm trying to communicate I'm pretty good at it.
but how I talk in order to communicate to someone else is a totally different kettle of fish from how I talk when I'm working something out.

I have learned nowadays that it's generally best not to mix the two things :-)
but before, one of the ways this phenomenon would show up for me in real life is people saying to me "Oh Jennifer, why do you have to make everything so complicated?!" and I'd be like "I'm not making it complicated, it is complicated!"

& what they really mean by "it's too complicated" is "my modelling method can't map what you're talking about".

(actually, despite what I just said about it being generally best not to mix them, this page is somewhere in between the two kinds of conversation - I am using this to connect some dots for myself, but I'm also intending to make it reasonably intelligible to at least Nat and the Kaleidoscope people)

or for some people they experience me (in that working-something-out mode of conversation) as really unfocused, because of the way that the tangents sprout tangents and I go all round the houses for about half an hour.
But being "unfocused" would be like going all round the houses randomly, and not trying to get anywhere in particular, and maybe not even knowing where you are in relation to where you started. whereas all the time I'm going round the houses, I haven't lost my awareness of the whole town. as it were :-)
and then I jump back to the original path and conclude it, and sometimes the other person is surprised that I even remembered what I was talking about in the first place. (possibly partly because they've been around people who propagate tangents from tangents without retaining the previous tangents anywhere and ever returning to them.) and I'm like "but I always knew we were ending up back here!"

or like I stack a lot of things, and I always come round again a bit later and unstack, but meanwhile the listening person's stack capacity may have been exceeded :-)

but you see for me that doesn't show up as multi-threading. not really. for me it's all one thing and it all connects up - that's the point :-)
it's just for the listening people it might sound multi-threaded.

[in regard to this I think it will be interesting to see if in future you manage to confuse me Nat or whether I just map all your threads as we go :-) ]

also EnglishDude wrote:
:: its easier when writing stuff down i guess as u can look back

well yes: you can look back if one of those jump-around conversations is written down, and at least all the bits are there.
but most writing is still basically linear. (which is why mind maps are better for some things.) Even email/usenet-based structurally-threaded conversations, which can accommodate multiple branches in the conversation, retain (structurally) only the original relationships among the branches (i.e. at what point they split), not any subsequent cross-references (though people sometimes do make subsequent cross-references in words).

so even written down, what's in my mind about the relationships among a whole set of ideas is never going to translate fully into someone else's mind unless they have some kind of equivalent mapping procedure, probably also 3d.

and I think one of the differences between me-working-out mode and how I would communicate in a linear medium (or to a more linearly-organised person) is that the second kind of communication involves a lot more explicit spelling out of relationships/implications among ideas. so that even if the listener doesn't get the whole picture, and the myriad implied relationships, the main relationships I see in the big picture have been given to them one by one.

also I know that one of the services I provide as a listener is to ask people questions like: "so how does that" (something they said a while ago) "relate to this?"



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Copyright Jennifer Moore 26/27 September 2001
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