Negotiating boundaries

Pulished 2018-05-26. Written by Teodor Heggelund.

Keywords: philosophy.

Lately, many of my trains of thought have ended up in a singular challenge: how to negotiate boundaries. Successful political systems negotiate well between conservatives wanting to maintain boundaries, and liberals wanting to remove them. Successful programming languages design boundaries where they are useful without being too much of a pain in the ass. Bad software systems have tyrannical boundaries that they force you to abide by, whereas software without boundaries are just a pile of code that no-one knows how to touch. Bad management either stems from lack of boundaries or too much limitation. Good management successfully creates stability and opportunity.

In a sense, I could have said structure instead of boundaries. Structure is a set of boundaries. Structure is classification. Instead of negotiating boundaries, I could have said discussing the design of systems: where the boundaries should be placed, and how many boundaries we need. Dataism as described by Yuval Harari explains the world as an information-processing system. What information processing is useful? The information processing that helps us make sense of things. The organization of information. Whether it is making the information available to a broader audience, or just improving the organization of the information. Useful information processing is thus successful negotiation of boundaries. And as we produce more information than we remove, we need in sum to add more boundaries than we remove.

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