Understanding comes from Ping-Ponging

I liked a remark on LinkedIn the other day. It referred to a discussion of model and element-based deliverables: “A “model” is element-based (as is the final real world project).

Without dipping toes into the ocean of that discussion, let me depart in another direction.

Here’s the thing:

Models and real world things are element-based, but understanding isn’t.

Understanding is not “element-based”. Having an environment of elements (or being in one) doesn’t produce understanding; thinking does. And thinking is something other than, and in addition to, the existence of an assemblage of elements.

For anyone working with a model or in a real environment, the operative question is: “how can I understand this assemblage of elements?”

How indeed. How does understanding happen? What can we say that gives some idea of the nature of thinking and the formation of understanding?

Thinking (if you think about it) involves a kind of ping-ponging back and forth between a conceptual whole (“Messi is a good footballer”, for example) and the recognition of a narrower exemplar or representation (he creates space for scoring, for example). Maybe more generally we can say that thinking is a back and forth between the wide expanse of something whole (like a model or real world environment full of elements), and some kind of act of narrowing focus. Through this back and forth we begin to wrap our minds around things. Understanding grows and we move from being lost in the woods to finding our way and making sense of things.

This brings us full circle then to a recognition that maybe there is something valuable (essential?) in the old tradition of drawing. To draw is to narrow down with articulate focus. A set of such focused articulations provides the ping. And the whole of an environment (digital or real), is the pong.

Ping-ponging back and forth is our thought process. In the back and forth we begin to understand.

You can convince yourself, and you’d be right, that thinking succeeds only when there is ping, and pong, and can’t even begin with either one, ping or pong, by itself alone without the other. Ping-ponging is the thing.

This tells us something. Media has an innovative future. We can transform media itself to better facilitate the ping-ponging of thinking. Just like in cinema 100 years ago when sound was infused into film (which amplified the ping-pong between picture and sound), the same is true with drawings (ping) and models (pong). We can infuse both into the same space.

We can innovate on the ping, to transform the nature of drawing. We have a LOT to do in that regard. And in doing that, we can amplify the ping-ponging, improve thinking, and bring better understanding to complex environments.

That’s what we’re doing at Tangerine https://tangerinefocus.com 

Partner with us. Let’s create the future of media together. https://tangerinefocus.com/about/ 

2 thoughts on “Understanding comes from Ping-Ponging

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