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    feedwordpress 16:21:00 on 2017/04/16 Permalink
    Tags: bias, biases, , , , , , , narrative, , , ,   

    Scripts, Stories, Narratives, Filling in the Gaps without Resorting to Fake News and other Propaganda Techniques 

    I have recently been minding my gaping gap and just the other day I was talking with someone about filling in the gaps, so I’ve decided to give you all a what’s update (I’m thinking that could maybe catch on sometime as a new term, sort of like all gangsta ‘n’ neato).

    But before I get too far off track, let me mix it up a little with some additional nerdiness: let’s talk about facts! I know there are plenty of data scientists and data journalists who can’t seem to get enough data (like they hope when they die and go to heaven, they will be able to hook up with a lot of ones and zeroes). Me, I’m all about being discrete, but to be honest I think I would much rather get a little more abstract every now and then.

    First of all, there’s the starting point. Little did you know, but you are already past it. Then there’s the end point – and don’t worry: it’s coming up real soon. In between those two points, there are an infinite number of other points. Infinite means: “so much, that even a computer can’t figure it out” — a really bad translation might be something like: “nevermind“. OK, if that isn’t abstract enough for you yet, then get this: in between any two points (like even between any of the infinite number of points between the starting point and the end point) there are also an infinite number of points. I could keep going on like this, but I hope you get the point already (haha — get it? 😉 ).

    Right here I’m pretty much right in the middle of the story. Everything I write here is another point, and all of it could also be referred to as data. But of course there are also missing pieces — like I haven’t told you whether it’s daytime or nighttime, whether it’s cloudy, all sorts of stuff. There are actually humongous gaps, if you think about it. The funny thing is: it’s entirely up to you to fill them in.

    Whether you like it or not, you are going to have to make some assumptions. The sad truth is that you will never have all the data. Why? Well, consider this: even if you think you have pretty much all of the data, there will still be an infinite number of data points in between the two closest points of data in your collection.

    I know it’s a big pain, but you will simply have to use your imagination to fill in the gaps.

    But don’t fret — we haven’t reached the end yet. I still have something more to tell. It’s actually something like a piece of advice for how you could and should go about coming up with the missing puzzle pieces. Way back at the beginning I told you I was talking with someone just the other day, remember? We were talking about something called “confirmation bias” — this is when you fill in the missing pieces with something you already think is true (and therefore it confirms the truth of what you already think — see also this video for a really neato explanation of it with a bunch of examples, too).

    Now there are perhaps also an infinite number of ways that someone could fill in the missing gaps in a story. Let me give you an example. I often talk about “retard media“. When you read those two words, you probably think something like “what does he mean?” (if you follow the link, you will see that I wrote a whole article about what I mean when I use that phrase — but even that article also has an infinite number of gaps that need filling in) Let me simplify this. Let’s pretend there are basically only two interpretations: 1. I am a bad person; or 2. there is something else “out there” that is bad (I am using “bad” here because it seems that a lot of people feel that way about the word “retard”). To flesh out the details a little more, this “bad” might have something to do with attitude — like a condescending attitude (so in other words, you might attribute “condescending attitude” to me or to something else). Now I have written more and more details here, but in the end it is still up to you to fill in the missing pieces, to accommodate the new information with your already existing beliefs and so on.

    As you do this, your biases will influence you. Many people think that the more you are aware of your biases, the better will the accommodation process reflect the actual “facts“.

    That’s it for now (we’re getting very near the end). Have a pleasant day! 🙂

     
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    nmw 11:24:52 on 2016/05/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , dialectics, disinform, disinformation, , , factual, , fictional, fictions, , , , interview, interviewing, interviews, misinform, , , , , narrative, , , sense-unmaking, , , , ,   

    Sense-Making vs. Sense-Unmaking 

    One widely acclaimed methodology in information science is Dervin’s “Sense Making Methodolgy” (SMM). It is very similar to the way people often think about “storytelling”:

    Because communication is embodied and learned in impositional and constraining structures (families, communities, cultures, societies), SMM assumes that most spontaneous communication is, in fact, not spontaneous. Rather, spontaneity in communication invites habitual repetition of hegemony and habitus. Interrupting this usual-ness requires a different kind of interviewing — one based on verbs rather than nouns; one that allows for articulation time and conscientizing; one that gives individuals safety for expressing what they “really” think, feel, do, imagine; one that gives informants freedom to be variable, to be sometimes clear and sometimes muddled; sometimes very cognitive, sometimes emotional, sometimes both at the same time.

    — [ INTERVIEWING AS DIALECTICAL PRACTICE:
    SENSE-MAKING METHODOLOGY AS EXEMPLAR by © 2008, Brenda Dervin, School of Communication, Ohio State University, USA , page 13 ]

    In Professor Dervin’s approach, information is seen as the act of reducing uncertainty. The opposite — increasing uncertainty — would therefore be interpreted as something like misinformation or disinformation.

    Yet what if we — for example — remove the certainty that God exists? What if people believe a myth to be certainly true, and we remove that notion of truth?

    According to Dervin’s views, we would have robbed them the happiness of being confident that their beliefs are true — and in increasing their uncertainty, they would feel less well-informed.

     
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    nmw 18:43:59 on 2015/05/09 Permalink
    Tags: agree, agreement, , , , contract, , , , , , , , , narrative, , , , , , , , ,   

    The individualist manifesto vs. The anti-revolutionary social contract 

    To think or not to think — no. To write or not to write… — no. To create or not to create… — that’s wrong, too. I can come up with many ideas, but where do they come from — out of thin air?

    There are some who often say: “You should live your own life, you should create your own narrative.” They are also wrong — it is not possible to invent myself or my story as being independent of the world around me. To do so would require me to step outside of any language community, to speak in something we might hypothetically call “my own language”. Yet the sun, the moon and stars, all plants and animals, the air we breathe, the water we drink, our entire lives are a matter of co-existence… we share a space with other objects and beings, and they are not only a part of our lives, they are a part of our being, and they also co-create the language we speak. We really cannot speak of anything which doesn’t exist (note that our imagination does exist), the existence of things leads us to observe them, think about them, interact with them, and also express our ideas about them using different kinds of language. We are no more free in our use of language than we are free to squint or not to squint when we look at a bright light — our squinting expresses something meaningful.

    Yet there are nonetheless people who will preach individualism, self-discovery, self-actualization, self-fulfillment,… — a whole self-centered philosophy. A philosophy that is bogus and that simply denies obvious laws of nature.

    Luckily, you are reading these words. You are trying to understand what I am trying to say — we are in this together. Night and day, the sun and the stars, all of life and death are also with us. We are all here together. The notion that we could be apart and isolated is also here, but it is ridiculous. 😉

    That said, you do not need to agree with me. Neither do the Sun or other stars. Nor does William Shakespeare. They need not speak the same language, but they might.

    I can try to convince you that my ideas are reasonable, but you are nonetheless free to think about different ideas. Perhaps you might like to think of ideas you would rather call “clouds”. I might not understand what you mean, precisely. Whatever you call “clouds” might not care at all what you think of them. Everyone is free to think as they like, but at the same time there is this curious feeling that we might be able to understand each other every now and then.

    Mutual understanding feels good. It feels a whole lot better than any notion of individualism. It feels so great, that we spend most of our days expressing ideas to each other that we hope will increase this understanding.

    We make agreements on a daily basis. We will call some things blue, other things green. We will restrict our use of terms like “ow” or “ouch” to mutually agreed upon contexts… — and likewise with almost everything else. We won’t smile when we’re unhappy (unless, perhaps, we are “acting” or “pretending”).

    Why would anyone suggest that you might be happy if you would write your “own” narrative? They would be suggesting that you should try to do something which is impossible. 😐

     
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    nmw 11:21:23 on 2014/12/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , , events, , experiences, experiential, , , , , , live, , narrative, , , , , , , , ,   

    Live to Make “Love Life” Stories 

    Why should anyone write down their life story — isn’t simply living it good enough?

    I think not — and the reason why is quite similar to the reason why many people keep journals of their dreams. In fact: This idea came to me in a dream, and since I don’t keep a dream journal, I have forgotten some of the minor details of the plot. Yet it was a quite lucid dream, and therefore I remember the main gist and the major thrust of the idea quite well.

    First of all: Life stories are made by stringing life experiences and life events together. You yourself create the narrative, even if the individual building blocks seem to be plain matters of fact… and you can actually build many different narratives from the same facts.

    Second, very little of what we believe are obviously true facts are actually very much open to interpretation. Everyone has their own point of view, and these different perspectives create inherently different biases — there is no such thing as an unbiased opinion. It is far more fruitful to become aware of bias than to attempt to eradicate it.

    From the above two observations, it should be quite clear already that the complexity of managing so many “variables” is quite formidable. It has often been said that one reason why humans started to write was in order to externalize data and thereby free up space in the CPUs — their brains, their capacity to think, ponder, reason, etc. without at the same time having to worry about each and every bit of detail. This is the reasoning behind storing data externally — in other words: writing it down.

    Another similar motivation for storing data externally is to document the same event from different perspectives — this is the main reason why the “Wisdom of the Crowds” idea became so popular. What many overlooked in their fanatical flocking to overcrowded websites, though, was that this only helps if the different perspectives actually complement each other. Millions of identical perspectives do not really improve the view of any particular event.

    Ultimately, one primary reason to document your own life experiences is to enrich your own perspective on your own life — and perhaps also your perspective on the life of others. Do you know people who might “feature” you in their story — but do so in a way that makes it clear that your existence in the story is after all mainly about them? You can enrich your story by weaving other people’s stories into your own (whether or not they reciprocate by weaving your story into theirs). Be willing to tell other people’s stories: They will love it! You will expand your own horizons! And, in the end: You will have woven a fabric of love — a loving network of interwoven stories that complement each other and from which each and every individual gains perspective. :)

     
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