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TSE  June 2001

TSE June 2001

Subject:

Re: Sequence vs depth

From:

Tom Gray <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 10 Jun 2001 09:14:07 -0700 (PDT)

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (188 lines)


I have always supposed that the term 'linear' in this
sense has been adopted from mathematics. It is best
understood (at least by me) by its complement. A
non-linear system (or process or function)is a system
whose next state depends on its current state while a
linear system does not.

 You can see it on this list the frequency of posting
depends on the current interest in the list so the
future state of the list is strongly dependent on the
current state of the list. Another example commonly
given is the state of orbits of the planets in the
solar system. If only the effect of the sun's gravity
on each indvisual planet is concerned the state of the
system of orbits can be predicted precisely with high
school physics. If the effect of the planetary orbits
on each other is brought into the question, the system
becomes non-linear and almost impossible to solve but
crtically important. 

It is quite possible that the Earth will be ejected
from the solar system due to this non-linear effect
Non-linearity gives rise to the fractals and chaos
theory that we have all heard about.  

I disagree that hyperlinks just make the path through
a text crooked rather than linear. I see them making
the  reading of the text dependent on the state of the
reader/text system. This makes the reader/text system
nonlinear with the expected results. Non-linearity is
not randomness. The state of the sytem is exactly
determined but highly unpredictable. 

Non-linearity is  the basis of learning - the future
state of the system depends on its past state and
adaptive or learning sytems depend heavily on this.

So there are many valid distinctions to be made
between linear and non-linear readings of text. It
also touches on the distinction recently made here
between arbitrary and arbitrated readings. Non-linear
systems involve arbitrated choices. They are the basis
of decision making. Arbitrary readings whether random
or strictly detrmined (ie just anywhere or beginning
to end) are linear and involve completely different
effects.

I suppose that in my mind non-linear systems or
readings construct meaning while linear systems or
readings exhibit or find meanings.


--- [log in to unmask] wrote:
> Marcia, 
> 
> In the 1950s, there was a lot of talk about how a
> new way of thinking was 
> needed for a new world. I think I first came across
> the idea in Henri 
> Focillon, and later in Edward Hall. That one
> couldn't think in linear terms 
> any more because this was insufficiently complex.
> That the new metaphor was 
> layering, or montage--the recogniton that the world
> had many layers of 
> meaning. 
> 
> Of course this is just a rehash of what was said in
> gthe middle ages--that 
> the Commedia had four different levels of meaning.
> Why four I don't know, and 
> one could argue that it possessed a near-infinite
> number of levels of meaning.
> 
> In any case, one expected this idea to trickle down
> in due course, and I'm 
> always being rudely reminded that it hasn't. Many
> people still don't seem to 
> have a sense of what linearity is or isn't, and of
> why one needs to go beyond 
> it to arrive at a more nuanced understanding. Hence
> all the hype about 
> hypertext, which is a tool and not a magical gimmick
> to allow anyone to do 
> anything. As a tool, hypertext has the limitations
> of any tool; it  can't be 
> any better than the person using it. 
> 
> Some of the best teaching material on the Internet,
> for example, comes from 
> George Landow at Brown. But the guy was a legendary
> master teacher before 
> computers came along, and therefore he knows how to
> adapt them to that 
> purpose. There's been a long-term communication gap
> between the people 
> designing hardware and software and those who wanted
> to use it--the 
> "customers." How stupid, for example, to make
> computer screens wider than 
> they are long, when we write on paper that's longer
> than it is wide!  My 
> accountant wouldn't computerize for years, because
> he said the accounting 
> programs were written by programmers who weren't
> accountants, and who 
> therefore didn't understand what was needed in an
> acounting program. An 
> architect friend had a similar complaint. The first
> word-processing programs 
> were just as stupid, if intended for use by
> academics. They only put 
> footnotes at the bottom of the page, and didn't
> allow endnotes at the end. 
> Yet journals would only accept endnotes and wouldn't
> accept footnotes. 
> 
> My assessment of these and many similar shortcomings
> is that the self-styled 
> hotshots doing the designing lacked the simple
> ability to follow two trains 
> of thought at once. They got so wrapped up in "how
> am I going to design 
> this?" that they couldn't deal, at the same time,
> with "how is this going to 
> be used?"  In other words, it was exactly the kind
> of linear, stuck-in-a-rut 
> thinking that was supposed to have disappeared in
> the 50s.
> 
> pat
> 
> 
> 
> In a message dated 6/10/01 9:48:02 AM Eastern
> Daylight Time, [log in to unmask] 
> writes:
> 
> 
> > [log in to unmask] wrote:
> > 
> > > Reading a book from beginning to end is a linear
> process, in the sense
> > > that
> > > it can be graphed as a straight line. The line
> can be subdivided to
> > > show
> > > one's progress (i.e., at 10 am one had arrived
> at page 17, and at a
> > > later
> > > point in time one had arrived at page 47).
> > 
> > Thanks, Pat.  I do understand what you mean by
> linear.  I still don't
> > understand -- apropos your having said
> > 
> > > I'm a bit surprised, though, at the drift of
> this thread. To me,
> > > linear is
> > > linear, whether the thread has gaps, is crooked
> instead of straight,
> > > or
> > > meanders around into improbable areas.
> > 
> > why you are surprised, since the thread was about
> reading books in order
> > and you introduced the notion of the linear in
> response to Rick
> > mentioning hypertext.  I'm grateful for the
> introduction as overlapping
> > terms can help sharpen definitions.  Linear and
> sequential are not the
> > same in the matter of order, as you have pointed
> out.
> > 
> > M.
> > 
> > 
> 
> 
> 


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