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.
2. Sharing is Learning
1. Transmuting Information. People have long sought to communicate important insights through condensed visual forms. The insight might be related to the physical workings of the cosmos, for instance (planets orbiting the Sun), or to more abstract concepts (ego, id, superego). The very attempt to condensate and share the insight can lead to greater, deeper insights . . . or to utter incoherence, if you lose your feelings of perspective and distance. In this workshop we’ll practice the art of “insight transmutation” and its looping process: insight >> information >> insight.
2. Displaying Information. Lay out information confusingly, and your reader becomes confused; lay out information amusingly, and your reader learns two things: the information itself, plus humor. This shows that the display of information is, in itself, information—and intimately connected with the original information you meant to share. In this workshop we’ll consider the interaction between information and display, and we’ll learn how to vary our approaches to absorbing and communicating information.
3. Sharing Information Visually. Images work both on an ostensible (or material) level and on a deep (or symbolic) level. For instance, you might draw a circle to symbolize the Earth, the world, the sun, self-containment, wholeness, a territory, a prison, a set of people, and many other things. In this workshop we’ll practice the skills of laying out information with drawings, sketches, and doodles that have the power of leading our minds on the passage between the material and the symbolic dimensions.
4. Sharing Information Orally. When you share information orally, your manner of expressing yourself is, to a large degree, the information itself. The clarity of your thinking, your posture in space and time, your tone of voice, your awareness of yourself and of the environment, your awareness of your listeners all influence your display of information. If you’d like your information to be clear and compelling, you must become a clear and compelling personality. In this workshop we’ll practice the skills of “working on ourselves” while sharing oral information.