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The skill of writing is to create a
                           context in which other people can
                         ...
Language is a map that can help us
                          see more deeply

          Alfalfa
                          ...
George Simon




Sunday, October 28, 12
I first got this idea in 1973, when I worked with a man named George Simon. He was
...
Alfred Korzybski: General Semantics




Sunday, October 28, 12
His work began with some of the notions of Alfred Korzybski...
“The map is not the territory.”




Sunday, October 28, 12
One of Korzybski’s best-known statements - “the map is not the ...
Korzybski’s
                     “Structural
                     Differential”
                     was a training
      ...
The real world is
                     represented by a
                     parabola because it’s
                     op...
Our individual
                     experiences leave
                     out much detail of
                     the eve...
We label our
                         experiences.
                         The problem
                         is that m...
We become the sum of our experiences and
                     the stories we’ve told abut them

                          ...
Knowing where you are in the process
                     helps you to correct your map

                         A       ...
Positive Reframing

                     • Free Software --> Open Source
                     • dot com bust --> Web 2.0

...
Sunday, October 28, 12
into the storytelling about open source software. I know these are eye charts from here,
and there’...
Sunday, October 28, 12
When you look at any of our events, there’s ultimately some rewriting of the meme map
in each of th...
ACCRS




Sunday, October 28, 12
And a big part of meme engineering is giving a name that creates a big tent that a lot of...
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Language is a Map (pdf with notes)

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The Ignite talk I gave at WPPStream Athens in September 2012 (pdf with notes). It explains the role of General Semantics and the work of George Simon in shaping my approach to the world.

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Language is a Map (pdf with notes)

  1. The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think. Edwin Schlossberg Sunday, October 28, 12 I open many of my talks with a quote from Edwin Schlossberg. This talk explains why this quote captures so much of my approach to what I do and how I do it. I think it’s also very relevant to folks in advertising and media.
  2. Language is a map that can help us see more deeply Alfalfa Oat Grass Orchard Grass Sunday, October 28, 12 When I first moved to Sebastopol, before I had horses, I’d look out at a meadow, and all I’d see was grass. But eventually, I got a language for what I was looking at, and could distinguish between alfalfa, oat grass, orchard grass, rye grass, and many more. Language is a map that lets you see, and think, things that you couldn’t see without it.
  3. George Simon Sunday, October 28, 12 I first got this idea in 1973, when I worked with a man named George Simon. He was originally a scout leader, but he ended up teaching workshops at the Esalen Institute, at the heart of California’s “human potential movement” in the 70’s.
  4. Alfred Korzybski: General Semantics Sunday, October 28, 12 His work began with some of the notions of Alfred Korzybski, a writer and thinker from the 1930s who created a movement that he called “General Semantics.” Korzybski’s central notion was that language is a map that helps us to see the world more clearly.
  5. “The map is not the territory.” Sunday, October 28, 12 One of Korzybski’s best-known statements - “the map is not the territory” - is echoed in this famous painting by Magritte. Korzybski focused on aberrations in thinking - racism - for example, as the result of “bad maps” that guide us astray because we mix up the word with the thing, and don’t go back to what’s real. He used to feed people dog biscuits from a tin whose label was covered up and not showing them till people had said how tasty they were, as a way of illustrating how labels preconceive and bias experience.
  6. Korzybski’s “Structural Differential” was a training device to help recognize the process of abstraction Sunday, October 28, 12
  7. The real world is represented by a parabola because it’s open ended and effectively infinite Sunday, October 28, 12
  8. Our individual experiences leave out much detail of the events that triggered them. And none of those experiences are identical. Sunday, October 28, 12
  9. We label our experiences. The problem is that many of us get lost in labels and forget they aren’t the underlying reality Sunday, October 28, 12
  10. We become the sum of our experiences and the stories we’ve told abut them A C “Beingness” “Identity” B D “Experience” “Map” Sunday, October 28, 12 My friend George noted that this was a good description of the process of cognition, and added another element, that we make what we take in (including the map), part of who we are.
  11. Knowing where you are in the process helps you to correct your map A C “Beingness” “Identity” B D “Experience” “Map” Sunday, October 28, 12 Korzybski used to have people finger the structural differential when they were talking to understand when they were going back to look at reality, and when they were just in the labels. George led workshops at Esalen in the 1970s teaching people how to sense where they were in the process. That had a huge influence on my ability to see things freshly.
  12. Positive Reframing • Free Software --> Open Source • dot com bust --> Web 2.0 Sunday, October 28, 12 So, for example, in 1998, I played a big role in reframing how people thought about free software,, and helped give it a new name, “open source.” In around 2002, I wrote a paper called “Remaking the Peer to Peer Meme.” In that paper, I used a diagram I called a “meme map” to show how I’d transformed the storytelling about free software
  13. Sunday, October 28, 12 into the storytelling about open source software. I know these are eye charts from here, and there’s no way you can read them now, but I’ll put the slides up on slideshare, and even better, you can go read the original paper.
  14. Sunday, October 28, 12 When you look at any of our events, there’s ultimately some rewriting of the meme map in each of them. Web 2.0 was about distinguishing companies that survived the dotcom bust from those that didn’t. Strata is about defining the new field of data science. Velocity is about making clear that the applications of the web depend on people to keep them running, unlike past generations of software that were simply software artifacts.
  15. ACCRS Sunday, October 28, 12 And a big part of meme engineering is giving a name that creates a big tent that a lot of people want to be under, a train that takes a lot of people where they want to go. A fantastic example of this is Maker Faire, started by my colleague Dale Dougherty. He showed the common threads that ran through things as disparate as [logos on the screen] So, don’t just think about storytelling, think about mapmaking.
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The Ignite talk I gave at WPPStream Athens in September 2012 (pdf with notes). It explains the role of General Semantics and the work of George Simon in shaping my approach to the world.

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