31 Mar 2010

Position paper: Unpacking Public Discussion (for CROSSROAD)

I submitted this:
Unpacking Public Discussion – developing an open forest of political argument (available as CPM-10-207)
to the "Crossroad" consultation exercise and have been selected to be a member of their expert scientific panel.

Organisational Safety Catches

As Harold Thimbleby pointed out in his AISB 2010 talk, sensible design includes adding the equivalent of safety catches, so that crucial mistakes are not made.  (Interactive systems need safety locks, Harold Thimbleby, In press. 32nd International Conference on Information Technology Interfaces 2010. http://iti.srce.hr)

Surely we should try and do the same with organisations, including low-cost adaptions that can stop them making catastrophic mistakes.  These could include:
  • Making sure mistakes are fed back and not discouraged by punishment
  • Ensuring that people working together have talked socially
However we will only get a full understanding of these when we can model the organisation as a whole.

The Anti-Anthropomorphic Principle

This is the principle that if is there is an assumption that the world is organised around us or for us in some way (e.g. that the Earth is at the Centre of the Universe, that we live in a unique period of history, that we are the only sentient beings, etc.) then this is likely to be wrong.

 This can be seen as a consequence of our apparent cognitive bias to see ourselves as special and take our assumptions as universal.