Cognitive Katas: Concrete Representation

Your brain doesn’t come with a users manual, and that sucks.

One subskill that’s been popping up a lot in my life is the ability to turn abstract ideas into concrete representations. It’s in writing, it’s in math, and it’s in IFS. Like, it’s in pretty much everything I’ve been thinking a lot about recently.

Brains are really good at associations. If you don’t censor yourself, you can probably come up with a visualization of any arbitrary thing.

Like, for talking, I imagine this weird colored gas fluid flowing between people and changing their colors.

Concrete Representations can be really useful for understanding things. For instance, if you take the fact that water is highly polar, and take the hydrogen bonds as water molecules grabbing on to other water molecules, then you can imagine the rules of capillary action fairly easily. You have two parallel rock climbing walls, and people try and climb up them. People not near a wall can grab on to other people. The people on the ends support people, the people in the middle are supported.

This is why thinner tubes have better capillary action, because there’s more people on the outside per person on the inside. Thin enough, and you can go all the way. More surface area to volume ratio.

It also helps a lot with communicating, especially with emotions. I’ve been messing around lately with trying to describe the physical sensations that I’m feeling rather than the words for the emotions. In the cases I’ve done it, it’s gotten the emotion across much more effectively than the words, and was able to bridge a few communicative gaps that I couldn’t imagine getting past any other way.



About atucker

Provisional pronouncements and (hopefully) honest mistakes. I'd like to be differently wrong about things, and helpful to the world.
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