zaterdag, september 08, 2018

What is a topic?

(Copied form my first entry in the GCC forum)
I was the one that noted this question in the last GCC Friday Experiment Conversation of September 8th. It is on my mind since 1984. Then I worked for a year at the now vanished Fokker Airplane factory. I was hired to bring clarity and structure into the internal documentation of the R&D facility for Advanced Composites. (Plastic planes seemed a far fetched dream for most engineers, back then.) So I dreamt a lot about structure, categorisation, standardisation, taxonomies and keywords.
All my ideas still apply, but have also shown their limitations. They are only valid from one single vantage point. Any rigid system requires the acceptance of many preconditions in order to function and be of use. Writing this piece for instance requires me to accept the alphabet, the qwerty keyboard and the english language. All are alien to me and demand a slice of my limited attention. So I recognise the comment by our friend Kreutzer.

From a more integral perspective we have learnt that any predefined structure is a limitation to the one that might naturally emerge. Yet emergence is easier when embedded in a proper structure. I now reason from the assumption that any structure (this Wordpress environment offered by Josh) is as good as any. And immeasurably better than no structure or connection point. The factual experiment is in just doing this and adapt and learn by doing it.

Now what makes a topic a topic?

The short answer is; I don't know yet. But my felt sense is that I am closer to understanding it then before. Thanks to my learnings and experiences in the integral community of which GCC is one expression. So let me think out load here for a bit. Hoping to feed your thinking and our dialog.

I lately use NEEDS as my most stable starting point in understanding human behavior. This thanks to my friend Sven van Echelpoel who proved to be far more consistent than me in applying the insights from Marshal Rosenberg on this. The simple starting point is this unrefuted assumption: All our behaviour stems from needs. And Abram Maslov discovered their hierarchy. His contemporary colleague Clare Graves discovered the psychological healthy behaviours or coping strategies humans develop to meet those needs. So they are in a hierarchical order as well. A simple experiential proof, you can do yourself anytime: Even the most pressing situations can be interrupted by bio breaks. 
It is that natural hierarchy that defines our lives, our interests and hence also define the distinctions between what we call 'topics'.

So in my mind 'topics' are situations or instances that require attention. Due to their very nature of being they draw my attention because they initiate a tension. (Attention and tension are related methinks) The same thing can go by totally unnoticed by others. A topic is anything that is interesting to me, of interest. Interest means it holds or represents a potential value. Negative value if it is considered a risk or threat, positive value if it promises any gain.

So following this line of thought from a human standpoint topics have a natural order. And I personally see the GCC as a group focused on 'Restoring viability to a disordered world'. Here I deliberately quote 'Levels of Existence as Seen by Dr. Clare W. Graves'.
This is the defining need that brings us together and hence defines our interests and the priorities of the topics we treat and discuss.
The interesting (!) aspect of the integral approach is that it does not exclude or deny any prior need, interest or topic, but embraces them as an essential part of the wholeness. And as the records of our conversations show this way all unmet tensions surface and require attention. I need to heal my own fractured psychology as part of my ambition to restore the viability of the society around me.

Summarising my thoughts so far, I would say that our striving to<em> find appropriate forms of collaboration to cope with the current global challenges</em> is one of our main topics. Following that logic everything else follows from that and might be ordered according to the hierarchies I mentioned earlier. And we can attribute our attention following the same prioritisation. As a group or individually. No need to agree or wait for permission before following your own interest. That is only one beauty of this emergent paradigm.

NB I notice that <em> 'Finding appropriate forms of collaboration to cope with the current global challenges'</em> can be seen as the HOW in answer to the WHY of GCC. The more action oriented among us gravitate to the WHAT we can do. 

Harry van der Velde

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