Ming the Mechanic:

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Randomity2003-06-26 03:37
picture by Flemming Funch

I really like randomity. In many programs and webpages I've made, there are some elements of randomity. Whenever you come by, there's a different quote, a list of names is sorted differently, a picture or a color is different. That's of course easy to do when there's a script that generates the page. A random number is generated and it is used to pick a record out of a database. Often it is a subtle or minor element I make random, but I always enjoy the result.

What I like isn't really the randomity. See, I don't even believe in randomity. I believe in emerging order.

Sometimes you need to collide with a piece of chaos before you notice the pattern that is latent in it. Sometimes we need to shake things up before we start seeing new potential order.

There's the old creativity trick of closing your eyes, opening the dictionary and picking out one or two words at random. And then pretending that it wasn't random, and seeing how these words might help you stimulate a solution to some problem you're working on now. Very often surprising insights will emerge. In part because you get out of your fixed mindset and start looking at a much wider sphere of possibilities.

You can often get the picture of something much faster by throwing in some randomity than by examining it "systematically". If you're playing minesweeper, it is a bad strategy to start at one corner and move up one cell at a time. Better to try some random cells and see what picture forms. If you were trying to make out the topography of a piece of land, you might get the picture much faster by choosing a bunch of scattered random points to check than if you start at one end and go through it.

It is an intelligence or investigation technique as well. You might often find out more about a person or group if you pick some random or incidental channel of communication and see what goes through it, or some random source of information. Looking through somebody's trashcan would tell you a whole lot about them. Possibly more than if you just listened to them.

Divination works in a similar way, although it would look for more ethereal patterns. The idea is that life leaves traces and clues, and if one holds the view that everything in the world is inherently connected at a deeper level, it is quite natural to assume that the application of a little randomity might bring out some of the clues. Particularly if you know what patterns to look for. Shuffle your tarot cards and shake up some tea leaves, or listen to the itch in your left knee. They might be just the antenna you need to pick up some signals you might have missed otherwise. Particularly because, and not despite, that they use randomity.

What I'm talking about here is in part synchronicity. The discovery of meaning in coincidences. Which is a horrible and insane thought to people who believe that everything in the universe is inherently random, separate, unrelated and meaningless.

And it is a beautiful thought to people who believe that the universe and all life is connected, and who enjoy the emergence of previously hidden patterns.

So, I'm looking forward to many more chance meetings, surprising coincidences, never-before-seen connections, cross-disciplinary discoveries, emerging patterns of synergetic order. And whenever there aren't enough of them, I think it is time to roll the dice and shake things up.

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26 Jun 2003 @ 03:51 by ashanti : Max
...is definitely back in your life! Max Back! :-)  

26 Jun 2003 @ 04:31 by jstarrs : I'm thinking...
...if there's a cause for chaos, then is it really chaos as we understand it?
I'm inclined to lump chaos with chance and her siblings...I'm mean, does chaos imply that there's no cause or simply an admittance that we can't see the cause?  

26 Jun 2003 @ 05:14 by shawa : Jeff ?
I postively hate to do that (hehehehe) - but look at what you have written! That some kind of...??? Coincidence? .... ;-)
Or is it part of "emerging gently" ???...  

26 Jun 2003 @ 05:29 by jstarrs : Hey Shakti...
...(me feeling dumb) what is it that you hate to do?
I mean, just because we don't see the cause, doesn't mean to say that it's causeless.  

26 Jun 2003 @ 10:04 by jazzolog : Randumbity
It's like saying, "I have faith in chaos." Some do.  

26 Jun 2003 @ 10:12 by martha : hey ming
several of us (please don't ask who) want to know how come we can't post a link properly. Something changed a few days ago I think. Is this part of the chaos? Also some of the pictures posted are no longer seen.
Is there a connection between thinking logically and chaos?  

26 Jun 2003 @ 11:03 by shawa : I hate to point out...
;-)... that you have written "I´m mean", instead of "I mean - and is there a cause to this unconscious choice of words or not ? (Don´t take it too seriously.) It was such a wonderful example of randomness, or is that, a gentle emergence from the unconscious ?  

26 Jun 2003 @ 13:43 by ming : Chaos
Yeah, I don't really think chaos is, eh, a mess. And, well, that's what chaos theory shows, I believe. It only looks like a mess when we don't the principles it moves by.

But, of course, there are several kinds of chaos. The ones that really are just a mess, and then ones that carry a hidden order with them. There's certainly no guarantee that one will get something clever just because one mixes a bunch of things together.  

26 Jun 2003 @ 23:53 by shawa : The Collective Unconscious...
...in which all our ego structures have their roots, is a very structured "chaos". Nothing happens by "chance" where "civilized" human beings are concerned.  

27 Jun 2003 @ 00:09 by jazzolog : There's The Rub
And there's something of a pun or poem in Shakti's comment about "civilized" human being CONCERNED. The sound of songbirds at dawn is a pleasant chaos to some humans---and for others, who have the interest to identify each bird by that characteristic call, it is ecstatic symphony. But we humans have this potential to appreciate, which obviously a bird does not---except to perceive whether some other sound is too close to his territory. We marvel at the creatures that seem to have worked out a balance in the Great Chaos of Being---and even yearn for such an "enlightened" state ourselves. Sometimes we CHOOSE a path of imitation of Nature in the faith that a pattern of happiness and fulfillment is in there somewhere. We erect and worship a God of Control that will build the machine to carry us. That's not my religion or my god---nor the mark of real civilization...as far as I'm CONCERNED.  

Other stories in
2014-11-07 23:12: Welcome to the 5th dimension
2011-11-07 17:22: Notice the incidental
2010-07-14 13:35: Consciousness of Pattern
2010-06-28 00:03: Pump up the synchronicity
2009-10-29 14:03: Convergent or Divergent
2007-08-05 23:45: Perverse incentives
2007-06-22 22:18: Elementary magic
2007-03-21 14:20: Cymatics and group formation
2007-03-15 01:06: Structural holes
2007-02-27 23:50: Leverage

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