Monday, March 11, 2013

Fiona's First Year: Discovering "I Opt"

By: Fiona (a/k/a Pciona) Wells
Apprentice Organizational Theorist
Professional Communications, Inc.

What a Year! I got born, learned to walk and helped Umpah flesh out his theories.  That's a lot of travel for a 1-year old!

I met Umpah when I was still at the hospital. His real name is Dr. Salton but I call him Umpah.  He said that he knows that his theory—he calls it “I Opt” technology—really works.  But he wanted to know how it develops.  I agreed to help him figure it out.

The first thing I had to tell Umpah was that I was not born tabula rosa. I was born knowing about sucking, crying, moving and other stuff like that. I told Umpah that this was what computer scientists called the “kernel.” It was the link between “me” and whatever else there was that was “not me.”

The first thing I had to do was make a connection to the “not me” world. I had to learn about “input.” Umpah told me that input was just patterns I would recognize as “things.” My first pattern was mommy. She fed me. I began to recognize a pattern of her smell, how she felt when I nursed and what she looked like. All of this happened at the same time. The combination of inputs was the “mommy pattern.”

Mommy’s face was interesting. At first I could only see clearly for about 18 inches. Everything beyond that was a blur. So what I saw was mom’s head—kind of an oval with lots of stuff inside. Umpah said that people tend to recognize things by their boundaries. Mommy’s head was the first “object” that I learned about.  I inferred that the “not me” world was stuff that had boundaries.

As I got older my eyesight improved. I began to notice lots of other things that had boundaries.  Daddy had the same kind of face as mommy. But it had fuzz on it. Then the Grannies began to appear. More faces. I studied them hard. I was able to begin to identify another pattern. It was my “people pattern.”  It was my first input category.  I had learned to generalize!

Umpah got excited when I told him. He told me that people are social animals. He said that it made sense that the core input concept of “people” would lie immediately adjacent (whatever that means) to my “kernel.” He said I would spend the rest of my life embedded in a network of people. It made sense that this was the first category of objects that I recognized.

When I was visiting my cousin Clementine I began to see the value of being a social animal. Clem is a little older than me. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her for over 2 hours! I watched what she did. I noticed her reactions. Everything she did was interesting. My “kernel” helped me recognize that “people” were different. Some are more like me than others. Clem was little. I was little. Umpah calls it an age cohort. Umpah likes to use big words. 

Umpah also told me that the reason I was interested in Clementine was that people model behavior. When I was watching Clem I was learning. She was teaching me what was possible. I could see what other people did when she acted one way or another. Umpah said that this was a lot easier than having to learn everything by myself. I can see why being social is a big advantage.

Output came next. My “kernel” had movement built in. I found that as I flailed around that I occasionally hit something. It would move. I could affect the world! Then I began to figure out that I could grasp some objects. I could move them to wherever I wanted.  I told Umpah that I had discovered causation! 

Umpah got excited again.  He said that causation was a key concept. He said that process—the third element of the “I Opt” model—did not make much sense without it. He said that I had discovered the sequence with which the human information processing model develops—input, then output and finally process. He said that this was a big deal.

Well, once I got the basic processing model down, I began to refine it. I had to figure out if color made noise. Did noise have a taste? Are objects with different textures different “things?” I spent a lot of time examining things. Throwing them. Tasting them. Pushing them. Umpah said that what I was doing was discovering stable patterns. He said that I was constructing a mental model of my world. 

Then an interesting thing happened. Aunt Shannon (she is the company CEO but I made her an honorary aunt) showed me a sheet of paper. I studied it. It had boundaries. It was an object.  Then she tore it in two! I found that hilarious! I asked Umpah why that was funny.

Umpah said that we laugh at things that are unexpected. He said that tearing the sheet was funny because I had been assuming that objects were fixed and permanent. When Aunt Shannon tore the paper she showed me that objects were made of other objects. I confirmed Aunt Shannon’s discovery by learning to tear paper myself. It could take a “thing” and make it other “things.”

Umpah said that philosophers had spent a lot of time trying to figure out what is a “thing.” I told him that it was simple. “Things” were just patterns of reality that I found useful. A sheet of paper was a thing if I wanted a sheet. Pieces of paper were things if I wanted pieces. Whatever I decided a thing was could then become “input” into my information-processing model.

Umpah said I had another important insight. He said that the patterns we create can cause us to “see” new things. He said a guy named Einstein took two “things”—time and space—and saw them as a new “thing.” He called it space-time. Neither could exist without the other. They were not separate “things” but really only one “thing.” I told Umpah to cool his jets. I don’t even know what a clock is yet.

I spent most of my first 6 months at home. I have lots of Grannies and they sometimes came over to take care of me when Mommy and Daddy went to the office. My environment was pretty stable. Stuff pretty much stayed in the same place and did the same thing. It made identifying the patterns of new “things” pretty easy.

After about 6 months I started going to work with Mom and Dad. At first it was scary.  Umpah and Aunt Shannon were there but in a new place. I still wasn’t sure where they stopped and other “things” started. But Umpah had built a little nursery for me. It had the same toys and stuff in it every time I came. I could spend my time figuring out how “things” behaved rather than if they were “things.” I got used to the office pretty fast.

This “I Opt” stuff is pretty easy and makes a lot of sense even to a little person like me. Umpah said that things look complicated when you start out in the middle rather than at the beginning. My first work with “I Opt” had been at the core. He said that I could now use the ideas I had discovered to get even greater insights as I grew up. 

I told Umpah that “I Opt” was no big deal. It was kind of a “thing” like everything else. It was just a pattern. Umpah got excited again (he seems to be a pretty excitable guy). He said that I had discovered abstraction. I told him that was nice. But figuring out how to get the colored rings on and off the pegged toy was a lot more interesting. I had a lot more work to do on “process” before I started worrying about second order mental constructs.

Well, that about sums up my first year. I will be coming into the office more regularly now. I figure that I’ll be able to teach Umpah more about “I Opt” since we will have more time together. I just have to be a little patient. Umpah tends to go off the deep end on this stuff.