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Monday, August 07, 2006

Using the Experience Of Others; Scripting & Abstraction

Many people seem to have a hard time with abstraction. It seems if someone is taught a certain way and in a certain context, that is the way they will most often continue to perform the action, without much innovation.

Some people find it tricky to translate the story into their own situation. Many people are too literal or linear to improvise inserting their own parts that they might regard as valuable. This "implied meaning" in an account is often related to the story itself. Of course, some stories can stand on their own, leaving the meaning to you to draw for yourself - but so much more could be available. Most people need to be led down a pathway to be able to understand meaning.

Getting the benefit of someone else's experience requires a person to abstract and apply the other person's experience or account to what they do know. Of course, some stories can stand on their own, leaving you to draw meaning for yourself as if the story leaves out the "moral." But for some people, the story always tends to stand alone as a story and can't easily be used as raw experience by the listener.

It seems that the teller needs to give the listener an experience that communicates to the listeners as well as reporting what happened in their story. Movies are an attempts to do this, and movie makers have gotten good at eliciting emotions in their movie-goers. But is that something they can use in their life, or only an escape? I guess that would depend on the story.

I'm curious for learning more ways to use information & experience in other contexts - as a speaker and a writer. I'd like to hear from people if they know other ways to improve on doing this - in blogging.

I discovered the concept of "scripting" from the Artificial Intelligence field. I liked the concept because a script frames and, in a sense, interprets meaning for you by providing a real-time context.

For instance, what I just said above is too abstract for many people. (In fact, this whole blog is too abstract for most people!) But if I tell you the same message with examples from when I used to teach juggling, then you have a better idea what I'm saying. Some people have a hard time extracting meaning from a story until they understand and can place themselves into the script itself.

As a juggling teacher, most of my job was getting people to update how they were taught to throw as children. People were taught to throw by their parents, and then usually never changed their process of throwing, even when it caused them trouble because it couldn't allow them to make the object they were throwing do what they wanted it to.

Sometimes placing yourself into the experience someone is communicating takes alot more familiarity with the situation - sort of like having to experience an unfamiliar activity quite a bit before you know what questions to ask about it to learn it. It's funny that people often know right away what they hate, but need to experience something repeatedly before they know they love doing it!

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