People and frames. It is something that I have been thinking about for a long time now. I don’t particularly enjoy thinking about it, but I cannot do anything about it. So I figured I better write it down and then maybe it will go away. In a way that I will not think about it never again. Or at least think something different.
The amount of data around us is enourmous. No single person can look at everything with a clear and unbiased state of mind. It is simply too much. So, instead what people do is generalize. They aggregate similar things into smaller and eaiser managable concepts. As people advance through their lives, the amount of these simple concepts grows. So they generalize again. They do it so often that they get used to it. Then they do it all the time. And then, they are not able anymore to see things clearly and in unbiased state of mind…
People who practice this generalization a lot get better at it. It takes them less time to learn generalize something new into their set of known concepts. This speed is sometimes useful, but sometimes it is dangerous. What happens is that people start feeling overconfident and they are not able to wait until the new idea unfolds on them. They categorize it even before they hear or read it.
But speed is addictive. In order to maintain this speed one needs to keep as few things changing as possible. So what people tend to do is build a set of frames. Like the ones that are used for pictures and photographs. They build their frames around something that they know well, something that has been properly categorized. There is the minimum survival kit and just a little bit more within those frames.
With frames life is simplier and categorization is faster. People with frames don’t need to categorize against a broad set of categories anymore. They only need to check if the new idea fits within the frames or not. If it doesn’t they just throw it away. If it does, then they can easily put it in the proper place – afterall the content of the frame is so familiar!
There are, it turns out, few problems with frames.
Firstly, people with frames are boring. There is nothing to discuss anymore. Everything is simple and define.
Secondly, not everything fits perfectly inside or outside the frames. In such cases, some effort is needed to decide if the issue is more on the inside or outside of the frames. And then a push is needed to correct the situation.
Thirdly, there is something else to the issues and frames. It is the space. There is always some space inside the frames. And there is some outside. Sometimes it happens that there is not enough space inside the frames. Sometimes it happens that there is too much space.
Let’s look a bit more on these problems.
Being boring is something people with frames don’t notice. Why? Because. Actually, everyone has frames. It’s just that some people have smaller frames then others. It is boring for the person with framed the 2 by 4 meters System of a down poster to communicate with a person who framed 8×12 inch picture of his cat. Their frames are way too far. The person with the smaller frame though will not notice the boredom. In fact, he might be even interested in the SOAD guy.
The problem with things hanging in between inside and outside is a tougher one. It slows down. It breaks the speed. But, luckily, rarely things hand strictly half inside and half outside. More usual is when they are a bit misplaced. Misplaced things break the speed, but it is difficult to get the momentum back. Just a thought of the new idea not fitting into the frame or creating a mess inside can provide enough stimuli to throw the misplacement outside. Keep it simple principle still works, doesn’t it?
Now, with space lays the main problem. Sometimes people just have to fit new things inside the frame. No questions asked. No options. Other times, they have to locate things within very fast. If there is too much space, one needs more time to go over it. Disbalance of space occurs when frames were not properly built. The only thing to correct the space problem is fix the frames. Either make them bigger or smaller. And that is tough. One will have to perform all the rebuilding works carefully, trying not to bring havoc in things that were carefully categorized inside the frames. When there are no frames, there is nothing to protect the order. Any new ideas coming in while frames are broken might greatly disturb the way things are. And that is scary. Most of the time people will try to avoid rebuilding frames.
If it is so painful to rebuild the frames, then how should one build them the first time not to fix them later? This is tough. On one hand, people need frames in order to speed up processing of the ideas they meet along the way. On the other hand, frames must be big enough to have enough of space, and small enough not to have too much space. Even worse. It seems that frames should get bigger with years. But a child is rearly capable of building frames that will be big enough to satisfy adult.
The guideline is to build the frames flexible. Somehow. Virtual mabye. Kind of like animals marking their territory. There is a border. It is stronger near marks. But it is somewhat discussable in between the marks. No hard fances.
People who have flexible frames do have some extra work to do. They have to patrol their frames all the time to check the marks. If the mark appears to be too far, maybe marking something closer. If the mark is too near – attempt to extend the covered territory. People who choose to do more work are rare.
People with flexible frames are interesting though. They usually have wider frames then those who build static wooden analogies. It is interesting to see how they change. What they have inside. And so on.
But how does one find a person with flexible frames? It seems easy – look for the person who is always on the move about his territories. Not exactly. Remember those speed fanatics? Some of them are moving around a lot.
So, here you are, in front of a person that moves around his territories a lot. How do you know if he has flexible frames? Talk to him. But don’t do talk about anything simple that is already in the frames. Don’t crash him with something that you truly know is outside his frames – you might force the guy to rebulid his frames without any particular reason to do so. Talk about something on the edge of his frame. And you will see it immediately. If he tries to push it around, generalized it, or get scared – you know that it is just another guy with wooden frame. He just tries to throw the subject in or out of his frames. If on the other hand, person gets on the move, starts changing his frames – you know it is the flexible type. He will most probably test your frames too. He will present you with the subject that edges your frames. And than it is your turn… It will also be a good opportunity for you to see what kind of frames you have.
P.S.: Now that I have written this I will have tough time convincing you that I wasn’t drunk or high. :)
P.P.S.: I do feel easier and better now. I can even read your comments on the subject. :)