Updated: 7/7/06; 4:07:00 PM.
Connectivity: Spike Hall's RU Weblog
News, clips, comments on knowledge, knowledge-making, education, weblogging, philosophy, systems and ecology.

 Friday, December 13, 2002

Situations, Judgements and Group Action

In her comments in a recent Group-forming discussion lyn suggests procedures for continuously generating appropriate group action.

... we basically need something like a collaborative editor with transactional modification of nodes. Each basic, top-level node should be something like a "situation" which is currently unresolved. The goal should be to resolve it by issuing a judgment. Situations can have sub-situations which require resolution before the top-level situation can be resolved. Situations exist in time, and judments can be invalidated by future events, however judgments are necessary now so that action can occur based on them.

Suppose, for example, that, after discussion, we decide our top 'node' [i.e., situation] is our 'how individuals and municipalities and businesses should relate to the environment'. The node would be 'retired' if we ever had a complex of answers that covered all past, present and future situations in which human-environmental interactions were involved. The bigger the problem the less likely this will ever be the case.

Because the situation is complex we decide to break it into sub-situations such as, food production [ how should we grow, consume, prepare, food], housing [what sorts of housing should we encourage in our area given issues of energy, a decreasing land base, etc.], population growth [birth control, sizes of families, definition of family], industrial waste [definition, presence of , enforcement, power to make decisions resides with ?], implications given evidence of global degradation [etc., etc.].

Categories are too static, they should only be relative to a problematic situation, at least at first. The whole point is that the community will run out of energy unless it continually poses and resolves situations. This will require refactoring of past situations so that new present ones can be properly resolved. Knowledge exists in the form of past judgments that can be relied upon in the resolution of future situations.

Our understanding of the human-environment relationship has changed considerably in the last fifty to seventy five years. By examining living and written histories and vast accumulations of data we will be able to revisit old experience and decisions in the light of trends that appear to be coming to light. For example, as individuals and collectives, we will give different weightings to commuting, fast food, suburbia and the personal family car than did individuals and collectives of the 30's and 40's. And as individuals, given a first exposure to data trends and their extrapolated consequences, we may well revisit yesterday's SUV obsession and translate the complex of issues into a very different life decison.

There will be disagreements about resolution of situations. Conflict is inevitable and must be considered. For starters, any dissident should be able to duplicate a situation and resolve it in a different way. However, the system should reward consensus so that resolutions can be satisfactory to as much of the community as possible.

A consensual judgement is desired, the path may twist and dip a bit. Contesting interpretations must be effectively aired. The urgency of the problems and the commitment to what we would like to believe will be right action {rather than the product of a rush to judgment [;-) } will hopefully help maintain momentum.

The group should have a private part and a public part. The private part is where situations are proposed and worked on prior to resolution via judgment. Once a judgment has occurred the group can decide to publish the judgment to the outside world. This provides a unified face and a past to the group so that it can build up a character in its environment. It also encourages refactoring because visitors will be attracted to the high quality of the public offerings due to their coherency.

After reaching some group-determined threshold of coherency,its knowledge takes the form of judgments -- and executive decisions to act . The action itself (whether publication of a stated judgement or a reasoned testimony , the presentation and argument for changed zoning regulations, etc) will provoke a full range of response from the larger society which will lead the group to revise understanding in small and big ways and to alter actions accordingly.

And, as lyn has stated, coherency in voice and action lead to the assumption of a unitary character in the environment, being taken seriously, gravitas.

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website.

Subscribe to "Connectivity: Spike Hall's RU Weblog" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


December 2002
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31        
Nov   Jan


Spike Hall is an Emeritus Professor of Education and Special Education at Drake University. He teaches most of his classes online. He writes in Des Moines, Iowa.


Article Feeds from Guest Blogger(s):

My BlogLinker Connections:/
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.