April 4, 2006

The world is so full of a number of things

The internet makes not sitting at home easier. Finally, some really good events calendars are available for Minneapols/Saint Paul events. It is possible to just check these routinely, every morning, and find real treasures. One I like especially is the University of Minnesota's events site. this site makes it very clear why having a world class university in town matters.

I think events, as opposed to media, keep us alive and remembering. It is important not to sit at home all the time.

Posted by shea0017 at 8:40 AM

April 1, 2006

Rule Collapse

There should be a reliable feature of any rule-governed practical activity in which advantages are separate from accomplishments. In any such activity, the rules evolve to promote accomplishment, that is, to confer advantages as a way of promoting accomplishment. That evolution will be guided in this way: as indices or indicators of accomplishment emerge (traits regularly conjoined with accomplishment), the "carriers" of those indicators will be given advantages. For a while, that will work fine: the rules will promote accomplishment reliably.Then competitors will begin to learn the rules, and they will seek to appropriate the indicators of accomplishment. But very often, the indicators of accomplishment are only conjoined with accomplishment when they arise quite naturally out of striving and activity. When the arise out of an effort to achieve the indicators, they lose their connection to accomplishment. As this begins to happen, the rules stop working so well to promote accomplishment and a new rule insinuates itself into the practical rules of the activity: give a certain amount of advantage and encouragement to those who don't follow the rules, while still affirming the rules in general. This is a sort of secret rule, but utterly predictable. Those who promulgate it will realize that, if they make a rule to promote mavericks, competitors will simply figure out how to be mavericks - the indicators of maverick-hood -- and the old problem will reappear. So this is a case in which the right hand can't know what the left hand is doing -- but yet right and left-handed behavior will emerge as predictably as sunrise and sunset. But of course, since this dynamic is pretty much obvious, the rules will keep collapsing: people will keep sniffing out the indicators of maverick-hood, and the rule-keepers will keep trying to reserve some advantages for whomever they take to be the new outsiders.

The only other general solution to this problem is to produce activities that confer or make use of no advantages except accomplishment, activities that are their own reward and carry their value in themselves. Chess seems to have been pretty successful, as that kind of activity. But where-ever it starts to make sense to invest in potential, to pay for promising contenders to prepare, the index problem is going to start up and rule collapse comes into the story.

Posted by shea0017 at 1:46 PM