Riff on Urgent vs Important.

Most recently arising from the Paul Mason piece – with the nagging doubt that “urgent” was not really the right term, probably because there isn’t a single term for the underlying issue. Achievable quickly is as important as priority of need, however it contributes to an aim – however gamed / opportunistic / opportunity-&-motivation-creating the relation to actual aim. Urgent because it is valuable and achievable in the short-term – not simply because it is high-value positively or counter-negatively if achieved immediately. Circular. Think Tactical vs Strategic.

But also Peripheral / Incidental vs Core / Fundamental. Detail (empirical, specific) vs Concept (theoretical / hypothetical / generic). Small / Individual (achievable) vs Large / Complicated / Complex (difficult to do, predict, manage, control). [I feel a 2×2 BCG grid coming on, predictably one closer to Dave Snowden’s Cynefin conception now I think of it.]

Complication and complexity being different one predictable (in principle, with effort and resources) the other (potentially) chaotic. The immediate reason for the riff arising, this paper on Chaos. (Hat tip to Sabine).

Chaos was never about the concept of butterflies in rain-forests. That was always a hypothetical thought experiment as far removed from reality as it could be, and therefore an excellent conception of chaos (after Einstein on “general intellect”, as quoted by Paul Mason). It was NEVER an actual definition or explanation of chaos in reality. Phys.Org typically naff as a source of scientific knowledge. As naff as 2×2 grids. [No opinion here about whether the actual subject of the news item is worthwhile as a “new definition of chaos” based on entropy.] Chaos has always been about predictability and always been about entropy, since entropy has always been about order and hence predictability.  And yes, it’s about expanding entropy in systems, but not maximum entropy. Maximum entropy is as predictable and boring as zero entropy. White noise is not “chaos”.

The interesting stuff are the cusps in the changing patterns of entropy as it expands generally, but reverses locally. I’m thinking Hofstadter here. I’m thinking life arising in an expanding universe.

More generally, recognising contextually predictable cases amidst the generally chaotic whole is the key.

Just a thinking-out-loud “riff” – some convergence of ideas, but no conclusions here.

One thought on “Priorities?”

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