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Thinking in Key

Thinking is seemingly free,
with richness and complexity,
yields pleasure for hours on end,
as into the clouds we ascend

Can thinking be a feeling we feel
while mixing the real and unreal?
as we play our lives in key
with the melody of “I’d like it to be”

– Balaji Prasad, February 2010

Elusive Enterprise Architecture

I think She’s here. No wait, She’s there!
Maybe She’s in the middle, maybe everywhere,
Is She of the mind, or a product of strife?
A surge with an end, or a day in a life?

Balaji Prasad, April 2009

The Semantic Forest

If the forest would stay a forest,
And the tree would stay a tree,
I’d know if my East were my West,
For my eyes – they’d clearly see.

– Balaji Prasad, April 2009

The web of semantic truth

We lie.  Not always deliberately.  The complexity that underlies reality often twists our tongues and brains to think and say the wrong things.  Convenience trumps integrity.  Our brains revel in discerning and pronouncing patterns that simplify and enable action.  But as wise people have said, it can be disadvantageous to make things simpler than they should.  But on the other hand, time is a force to be reckoned with too – we cannot endlessly analyze things to make sure we vaporize all uncertainty out of our decision-making processes.  Is there a balance to be found between simple views that enable action …  and complex, more realistic models that delay and make our actions less surer?

Can the Semantic Web help?  Can we say things in a simple abstract manner with sweeping generalizations, while being able to drill down into specific statements that collaborate to corroborate such 100,000-foot belief-truths?  If we had a language that allows us do unions and intersections, causes and effects, aggregations and divisions … maybe we would lie a little less.  Or maybe our lies and truths would move us from a binary existence to a grayer blur that deals in probabilities and semi-truths.  Maybe more uncomfortable, but closer to the real world that we live in.

– Balaji Prasad, 4/09

Unimagining the Imaginable

We are supposedly in an age in which creativity will be the dominant force that enables success. We hear that we need to treat innovation and the sparks that generate it as the liquid assets of our age. That all this needs a different kind of thinking, perhaps even a different kind of mind.

The underlying message here is that creativity is a hard road for most of us – one that requires determination, flexibility, patience and endurance. The stuff of genes is believed to hold the magic of creativity – we are, each, individually crafted on the foundation that either enables or disables us from realizing our creative and innovative potential.

We are exhorted to imagine the unimaginable … to generate possibilities that will take us beyond where we could go otherwise. Workshops, processes and organizations are put in place to break the walls and free our minds. Yet time and again, we find that these misadventures yield little when gray matter meets the moneyed road.

Maybe it’s not the inability to imagine new possibilities but our valuation system that limits our ability to gain from these possibilities? When possibilities range in front of our eyes, we use our embedded foundational patterns and primitives to sift the wheat from the chaff. We see the wheat but the chaff is blurred. Our language, logic and math enshrine our value system – and give us the lens to simplify and imagine the imaginable; and value the imaginable. Wheat is wheat and chaff is chaff. Or is it? Do labels obfuscate and make us reason at a level of abstraction that makes a charade of reason?

Perhaps we should spend more time attacking our foundational primitives of language and logic. Debates built on that operating system will yield results that can be supported only within the rules of that platform. Maybe we need to unimagine the imaginable, rather than imagine the unimaginable? To do that, we may need to move the debate to a different platform – one that is more skeptical of our language, logic and math primitives. Maybe this is creativity too – a much needed introspective, bootstrapping kind of creativity.

– Balaji Prasad, April 2009

Wordless Thinking

If words could think and things could talk,
This life, this mind – would  intertwine,
Leave language, logic, this drunken walk,
I like my water, don’t dub mine wine.

– Balaji Prasad, April 2009