The title of this post is a quote attributed to Salvado Dali. I hadn’t heard of it before, but it appears to fit very nicely with a struggle a couple of the participants in the NETGL course are having. The desire to get everything “perfect” is getting in the way of engaging in the network. This appears somewhat connected with the more traditional approach to formal education and perhaps the understandable desire not to be seen to make a mistake.
I’d like to suggest that to get the most out of the NetGL course there needs to be a shift to a different mindset. One perhaps better represented by the Dali quote and a saying I’ve been using for a few years
It’s not how bad you start, it’s how quickly you get better
For me this idea arose out of the difference between teleological and ateleological processes. The teleological approach (aka the planning approach process) is based on the idea of knowing exactly what you’re going to do before you do it and then planning how you’ll most efficiently achieve that plan. The ateleological approach (aka the learning approach to process) starts with where you are, makes a small change in response to local needs and learns from that experience.
The reason I think the ateleological approach works better for the type of world that the NetGL course assumes arises from Introna’s (1996) identification of the three conditions that must apply if the teleological aprpoach is going to work
- The system’s behaviour must be relatively stable and predictable.
- The designers must be able to manipulate the system’s behaviour directly.
- The designers must be able to determine accurately the goals or criteria for success.
The nature of a distributed world is that it is inherently unstable and unpredictable. You don’t know what’s going to happen so investing lots of time and resources in a fixed plan is wasteful. Better to be able to respond quickly. To get better.
Introna, L. (1996). “Notes on ateleological information systems development.” Information Technology & People 9(4): 20-39.