SUMMARY: EXPLANATION BY PATTERN
"Concern for man himself and his fate must always
form the chief interest of all technical endeavors. . . . . Never
forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations."
Explanations require two
kinds of information: information about a subject, and
information telling us which chunks of subject information to reason
through under different conditions to reach sensible conclusions. There
is a problem with conventional text: The line-like form of text
sentences shown here does not match the branching patterns of complex
explanation that may be hidden inside. A or B looks no
different in form from A then B, or A not
B, or A and B, or A sometimes B -- but they are different logic.
Sentence. Sentence. Sentence. Sentence. Sentence.
Sentence. Sentence. Sentence. Sentence.
Information in sentence
form can’t show us where the chunks of logic are, how they are
connected, which conditions affect outcomes, nor any alternate
explanation scenarios for readers. Unfortunately, we have to figure
them out by reading
and analyzing. This can be frustrating and defeating. Notice that all
of these confusions exist no matter what the subject matter is.
A way around the confusions occurs in games. In general, games are
familiar to even children -- there is a board or playing field on
apply. The simplicity comes from
seeing valid patterns of relationships and moving through them.
The base runner rounding first sees the ball, the fielders, the coach,
and second base in a non-linear pattern and moves through it. Any
complex subject can be ‘played’ – explained -- on a game board
where everything that counts stays in view while we move to good
conclusions according to rules of the game. I am aware of about 100
game board applications of FLIPP, mostly in business. An example is given in
the Case Study section.
An empty game board with 9
frames, 11 explanation paths.
This is an empty
miniature game board for some complex subject. Subject information has
been removed to focus on how the confusions mentioned above are
"explained" visually. Frames are special chunks of information
that can be
direct-connected. A reader navigates top-down to a concluding frame
without crossing vertical lines. The 9 frames form 11 complete
explanation paths, all of which are displayed. A frame can be active
in many paths. For example, the frame in the upper left is active in 5
paths. Extending this idea, the 9 frames together serve as 32 active
frames. Often, 10 pages of complex text instructions collapse to a
single-page game board of far greater value than the 10 pages. New
information about relationships ("meaning") becomes available.
The astonishing clarity and speed of game boards lets more people
participate in changes that affect them – people of different ages,
interests, languages, education, profession, training, knowledge.
Explanations whose logic is clear help people live better together.
Their environment changes.
The name of the new method is FLIPP Explainers (Format For Logical
Information Planning & Presentation). The diagrams produced
with FLIPP are called game boards, Flipps, or Explainers. They
were invented by your author.§
David J. Cox June 18, 2003 Cincinnati OH