Do you know what I was lying awake thinking about last night?
Non-hierarchical data systems.
Why? Well, bear with me, it’s a gardening thing.
I work as something of a creativity aid – what I’m hired to do is listen to client’s jumbled information and assemble it into attractive, persuasive words and images. But what I actually do is try to nudge their own creativity into the fore – like an undercover creativity Mary Poppins! My personal and professional goal is to make myself unnecessary, which now I’ve written that down…
Anyway, one thing I keep butting my head against is a deep-seated problem about how information begins and ends on any page. If the subject or process I’m writing about is non-linear (dynamic, cross-disciplinary, multi-layered), what makes you decide on the where you start? And doesn’t that effect the position and absorption of the following information?
I’ve always kept within conventional forms before, but these days, I am desperate for more. And it was last night’s pondering that led me out into the garden realm and into the way plants can offer varying, inspiring solutions.
We all know the tree system – the trunk is a subject, the branches can be fairly lateral, the leaves can intermingle – unless you have a rotating 3D model that brings in other dimensions, it’s hard to get away from a beginning and an end…
But what about the Rhizomes?
‘The word rhizome is used as a metaphor, to compare the growth and structure of rhizome navigation interfaces with the complex organic growth and structure of rhizomes, underground plant stems that send out roots and shoots from their nodes.’
Image from Bamboo Botanicals
But we still have the problem that we might be tempted to read from left to right, indicating a first and a last.
Why is any of this important?
An implicit hierarchy which is just generally accepted in information is one thing – on the most basic level, it really is just about reading information in its clearest form.
But data and information are worth big money to corporations, governments, companies and criminals for a reason.
Hierarchy of structure also reveals hierarchy in attitudes.
A general convention for the presentation of data can hide an implicit hierarchy in attitudes.
In a less sinister vein, flexibility is something humans need, in their bodies and their brains, as flexible attitudes, joints and open-mindedness all keep us younger for longer – so I assume that extends out into our greater communities; our work…
If I tipped a piece of paper on its side and rejected linear narrative information delivery, and created a dynamic structure where the reader decides their own path, how is information encountered? How is it absorbed? The answer might be: individually.
Minakata Kumagusu created his own philosophy, called “Minakata Mandala,” collecting so-called cryptogam plants in the wild forests
We struggle to find the right word – people are paid thousands to hit the right subconscious notes, but I begin to wonder if the way to accessing all that potential in the minds of ourselves and others is simply to change things up. Access creativity. Expect creativity – allow creativity.
I can’t help but wonder, if the hierarchy falls away from how we write and receive a snippet of information, might it make lovely flexible ripples into the rest of our social norms and the way we communicate with and treat each other?
We might even stop clashing and rattling and start flexing and swaying!
Fedor van der Valk – String Gardens