[SharedKnowing] "Go live right now"
bkovitz at acm.org
Sat Mar 29 14:57:33 CDT 2008
Nat Makarevitch replied:
>> I'm fascinated by processes that achieve high levels of refinement
>> not by
>> thinking things through carefully and preventing errors before "going
>> live" but by "going live right now"
>> Where else have you seen "go live right now" in use?
> Isn't training pertinent (for an expert both 'is' and 'achieves' "high
> levels of refinement")?
Thanks for this new angle, Nat. I've been thinking about this since
you posted it, and here's what I've come up with. I think training or
practice in a special, safe location, like learning to drive by driving
around in a parking lot, is not what I mean by "go live right now".
Not that I'm complaining, though, because now I've got a sharper
distinction. The distinction is that when you "go live", you are doing
the real thing for real stakes. When you "go live right now", you are
skipping a period where you simulate the real thing.
Planning and training both use a proxy for the real-world situation.
In planning, you manipulate a representation of the real world (words,
diagrams, models, etc.). You hope that the simulated actions that work
well on the representation also work in the real world. In training,
you work with some element of the real thing but in a special, safe,
controlled place where not all real-world factors can affect you
(driving in a parking lot, playing your bodhran alone, etc.). Training
is closer to "go live right now" because you interact concretely with
part of the real-world situation: a real car, a real guitar, etc. You
hope that experience with an element of the real-world situation is
close enough that when you "go live"--that is, when you deal with *all*
factors in the real-world situation simultaneously and play for the
real stakes--you can start off doing pretty well.
There is a sort of "creationist intuition" that "go live right now" is
an insanely dangerous way to do things. Indeed, you probably wouldn't
want to fly a plane without some planning and training. Even improv is
something you train at relentlessly for years. But I wonder how many
opportunities and insights the creationist intuition is steering us
Here are some observations:
1. The big advantage of "go live right now" is that the real, causal
nature of things gets expressed: the real world is not limited by your
imagination (or by your false beliefs). William Pietri mentioned
off-list that market economies are another great example of "go live
right now": their ability to leave planned economies in the dust
results from the way they let much more of the participants' potential
for cooperation and invention come out than planners can think of.
2. The big danger of "go live right now" is that the real, causal
nature of things gets expressed: the real world is not limited by the
speed at which you can make adjustments to the unexpected things it
throws at you, not all of which are helpful or easy to deal with. "Go
live right now" bets everything on your ability to adjust as you go--to
navigate without a map.
3. As long as losing doesn't knock you out of the game, then "go live
right now" is not too dangerous. If someone posts some lame text on a
wiki, that doesn't end the editing. Improv looks dangerous because of
our natural fear of public embarrassment, but a key to doing it is to
see that it's perfectly safe. Even if your character gets killed,
you're still OK. The worst that can happen is a lame scene. When it's
over, you can do another one. Even biological evolution is "safe" from
the standpoint of the game of evolution: as long as *some* organisms
live on and reproduce, it's OK if nearly every mutation fails. The
evolution game continues.
4. Planning works mostly on things that are already extremely
well-understood. Training often involves a trainer who understands
both the real-world domain and how to get good at it. This kind of
refined understanding originally came from people who "went live right
then." The first airplanes were not flown by trained pilots. Training
is mostly a way to catch up quickly to a level of skill that others
already possess--that is, to learn much faster than the people who
first explored the domain (and to learn from their costly mistakes
without paying those costs yourself).
5. The distinction between going live and preparing is artificial.
Really, all of life is "live", right now, whether you are ready or not.
Planning and training are special ways of constraining the part of the
world that you deal with.
6. Planning assumes that you can control the domain. In a planned
economy, or indeed any organization large enough to need
administration, a lot of energy goes into maintaining control: that is,
preventing people from acting outside the limits defined by the plan.
In knowledge communities, the reason you are getting together is
because you want the community to create things that transcend what any
individual can envision. The tighter the control, the less opportunity
for the "magic" of on-line communities to happen.
7. A clever sort of training is to gain skills in adjusting rapidly to
unexpected new things showing up. Improv classes are like this.
More information about the SharedKnowing