Forms of Presentation and the Future of Comprehension

Pattern interpretation possibilities

Anthony Judge

Part of the original intention was to experiment, with patterns which highlight and clarify functional relationships. Ideally the matrix should help to show how different functional concerns are related to, or distant from, one another. In its present form it offers a healthier approach to the insidious problems created by the "pecking order" in the sciences. This is reflected in university departments and the perceptions of intergovernmental agencies (or their divisions) of the relative "relevance" of certain functions. Clearly it is easier to focus on functions at lower "tangible" levels, even though any action may be taken (at least in public statements) in the name of values associated with cells at higher "intangible" levels.

As a form of map, it is useful to recognize how agencies can get "locked into" the functions associated with a particular cell (eg information), without recognizing how dependent that cell is on neighbouring cells if its activities are to be usefully integrated into the pattern of functions. On the other hand some agencies may engage in a form of functional empire building by focusing on a "zone" of neighbouring cells (eg 27, 28, 37, 38), only accepting the significance of other cells under considerable pressure. Development may also be narrowly conceived by agencies as only in terms of cells at higher levels in the same column as that of their initial preoccupation. In this way an agency becomes "locked into" a column of functions. On the other hand some agencies may simply reject as irrelevant functions at some other levels, for example those corresponding to "theory", "praxis", or "values".

In terms of an organizational or management perspective, there is a need for the diversity of functions corresponding to the differentcolumns in order for any programme or community to be viable. In this sense the matrix offers an interesting series of reminders for organizational design and development. On the one hand it is a representation of management functions (styles or skills), as suggested by the work of Jantsch. And on the other, it can be considered an indication of the order in which complementary functions tend to become explicit in the development of any community. Recalling briefly the periodic table model in which the cells at higher levels correspond to elements of higher atomic weight, it may be asked how the analogy permits such intangible elements as value-related experiences to be placed at the higher levels in the matrix. Although possibly pushing the analogy too far, it is however precisely such values that are conceived as constituting the "weightier" issues in contemporary society. Certain values such as "freedom", carry "great weight" in social interaction. They are quite capable of "displacing" material concerns of seemingly greater import.

As noted earlier, a periodic classification scheme necessarily has a predictive element built into it. In the case of chemical elements, these were each "discovered" at a particular time, although the existence of many has been predicted since the periodic table was produced. In the international community issues are "recognized" from time to time (eg energy, environment, employment). It would be of great value to predict the discovery of new ones in order to explore their policy implications. As the matrix stands, it would appear that there are few new functional elements to be discovered. The difficulty is that although it is possible to associate words denoting certain functional properties with certain cells, it is as yet entirely unclear whether this exhausts the functional significance which could in future come to be associated with the corresponding cell, as was pointed out earlier in the discussion of cells and their relative "emptiness". Using the periodic table again, it is possible that whilst a functional element may have been discovered many of its "isotopes" may yet remain to be discovered. This in turn raises the question of the relative stability of the "weightier" elements and the recognition of what are known as "islands of stability" in the sequence of such elements which man is attempting to create. It is the periodic table which has given credibility to the search for isotopes with half-lives ranging from a millionth of a second to over a million years. It is possible that a functional classification could give credibility to creative "flashes of insight", not to mention mystical experience, temporarily altered states of consciousness, or the states of awareness described in much Eastern literature in which the interaction of positive and negative forces is appropriately balanced. It is not too far-fetched to accept that such a framework could well be relevant to understanding the possibility for bringing about a stable peace in society. In generating the framework for Section X by combining the cell names from the matrix used for Section W, space is effectively created for a large range of functional compounds. Clearly from nearly 100 cells in the matrix, nearly 10,000 categories are created in Section X. Only a few of these are used at this stage as can be seen from the statistics at the end of this volume. The remainder are filtered out by computer. One of the miracles of modern science has been the development of the ability to design and make new chemical molecules, of which over 5 million are now known. Seen in this light the functional classification can usefully raise questions as to whether certain functional compounds already exist (possibly ineffectively named or confused with others), should exist (because of their desirable properties in social processes), or could exist (even though their properties could be highly undesirable), and under what conditions.

An interesting problem which emerges in the attempt to allocate a single code to a word is the tendency for words appropriately associated with one cell to be used as metaphors with connotations for another cell, usually at a higher level. It is even possible to question to what extent words can be assumed to be metaphor-free and incapable of signalling the existence of functions having a "harmonic" relationship to the most concrete use of the word. Whether more insightful metaphors can be said to be associated with higher cells in the same column remains to be investigated. This would be one way of improving the integration of the lowest levels (0 and 1), which are a rich source of metaphors, into the pattern as a whole. Metaphor merits much more attention in relation to the problem of representing classification schemes in a memorable manner (31). It needs to be seen as being of vital significance to information users and not just to number-oriented document cataloguers. Again there is much to be learnt from Eastern systems of classification in which metaphor and number patterning of classes and sub-classes are combined to constitute apowerful mnemonic aid to comprehension (32). It is for this reason that a section on metaphor appears in the 1986 and 1991 editions of the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential.

An interesting related problem is the tendency for action-oriented organizations to denote their concrete preoccupations by using terms for intangible values (eg "security" in place of "defence". This situation can be considered the reverse of that described in the previous paragraph.

Another concern for any classification scheme which purports to be of multi-cultural significance is whether it avoids being locked into the purely Western approach to classification in the Cartesian tradition. This reflects a preoccupation voiced by a number of contemporary authors (12, 13, 33) including the Rector of the United Nations University (34). It is therefore useful to speculate on a "confrontation" between the matrix in its present form and that associated with a thoroughly Eastern perspective, such as the Chinese classic the I Ching or Book of Changes (35). Aside from being a deliberate attempt to classify processes and conditions of change (as opposed to "objects" and "subjects" of knowledge), this is organized into a 8 x 8 matrix of 64 cells. It is not to be excluded that a relationship could be found between these and the 8 levels and 8 columns of Figure 7 [Integrative Matrix]. This could offer new insight into the sub-patterns of functional relationship within the pattern as a whole. This possibility has been partly explored elsewhere (26). A related approach was used to classify "human values" in the 1986 and 1991 editions of the Encyclopedia of World Problem and Human Potential.