Retwist that which has been untwisted

October 12, 2006

Language, said Mulla Nasruddin, was devised to describe actions as well as thoughts.
That means that all you have to do is to get the words right, and everything will be understood.

But Mulla, said a friend, surely that cannot apply to everything?

Yes, it should.

Then can you describe to me how the silk industry is carried out?

Certainly. The first part is to get the worms and untwist that which is twisted. The second part is to get rid of the worms and retwist that which has been untwisted.

I have always loved the tales of the Milla Nasruddin, the wise fool of middle eastern story telling (and wider). I recently blogged my all time favorite in the context of a set of knowledge management quotes. Earlier today I used the above to illustrate why computer search engines, entity extraction modules and the like, while always useful will never equal human intelligence . Unless that is we either (i) meet them half way (excessive process engineering can easily achieve that) or (ii) loose our ability to communicate humour, paradox and a deep appreciation of context. Not to mention irony, sarcasm, metaphor and paradox. Now add facial expression, social context, references to literature and history and you start to see the rich complexity of language.

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

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