1. From Data to Wisdom

To live is to sift through information. Just to start your day, you must deal with the information contained in your clothes closet and your kitchen cabinet, the information in your email inbox, and the weather forecast. More broadly, the information you must sift through includes pretty much everything in your hours, days, and weeks: what people say and do (and don’t say and don’t do!), what your body and your memory communicate to you, and the messages contained in every sight, sound, smell, letter, number, shape, or form that enters your awareness.

You'll make your life easier by making friends with the art of information and interpretation.

1. Neutral Information. Information is a broad term that covers many things. Phone numbers, written lists, body language, branches and leaves blowing in the wind all contain information. Before understanding information or doing something with it, it’s useful to see the difference between data and information. At the outset, 12155575700 is data; it becomes a phone number (and potentially useful information) if we display it like this: +1 (212) 555-5700. In the conventions of phone-number display, the + means “a code used to access international dialing,” 1 means “the USA” and (212) means one of the area codes for New York City. If you've been looking for this phone number, the information is valuable to you. And if it’s a beloved friend’s phone number, you invest it with emotion. We are always making the inevitable passage from data to information to knowledge to wisdom. It’s a vital passage, and it merits study. In this workshop we'll start our study by looking at a mass of data in many media and "deciding not to be overwhelmed by all the data." Without this skill, the passage from data to wisdom is, in a word, impossible!

2. Dynamic Information. The skill of keeping your cool when faced with mountains of data will help you with the next task: the skill of making choices among data and among interpretations of the same data. Indeed, the art of passing from data to wisdom is the art of "choosing and interpreting." For this workshop we'll choose a particular subset of data and become aware of how we've been interpreting it all our lives. If practicable, it'd be really good if you could have your birth certificate at hand.

3. Embodied Information. Put a photo of a woman next to the photo of a child, and your mind is likely to create a link: “motherhood.” Now the two images are in dynamic play with each other, (although the play really occurs in your mind, not in the images themselves). In this workshop we’ll explore a particular application of dynamic play: setting up four words or concepts into a multilateral play of opposition. One example: “Confidence, Arrogance, Modesty, Insecurity.” If we display them together in a cross-like pattern, their interaction in our minds becomes so rich that we suddenly understand something basic about ourselves. We’ll call a set of four elements (words, concepts, actions) a quaternity and study its inherent power.

4. Integrated Information. Information can travel across media. For instance, something starts as an abstract idea in your mind, and you write it down on paper: The original information has now crossed media, and the crossing transformed it. The ultimate medium for all information is yourself, in body and mind. Unless information is embodied, it won’t fully make sense to you. In this workshop we’ll take a set of abstract concepts and we’ll transform them into a living, breathing, internalized, beneficial reality.