Synaps open-source – Synaps open-source : mentoring, management and methodology

  • What is analysis ? – Synaps source code
    Peter Harling

    ANALYSIS IS AN ODDLY VAGUE CONCEPT, given how central it is to our lives. There are many ordinary things we could not do without it. It would be dangerous to drive or cross the street without analysing the tangle of moving objects, road signs and weather conditions that inform our movements. The concept pervades virtually every field: Chemistry, mathematics, syntax, finance, journalism, and psychology all hinge on analysis. Such diversity makes it difficult to pin down: Can a blood test and a thesis in political science have anything in common? It will take a few analytic steps to prove it.
    Dictionaries tend to define analysis as one of two things. On one hand, the word refers to a process of examining an object to achieve a better understanding of it. On the other, it denotes the outcomes of such a process—the judgment or opinion we eventually form about that object. Such definitions hardly help, because they don’t tell us how to reach such conclusions. At the other extreme, social science manuals, for instance, usually confuse us with excessive methodological detail. The truth is that good sociological analysis is at least as much about instinct and experience as it is about rigorous methodology. Ultimately, most researchers just learn to analyse on the job.
    It is useful, however, to see that analysis proceeds in five stages. First, one must break the subject into its constituent parts. Any topic can be divided into subtopics, sub-subtopics and so on. A diplomatic crisis, for example, will involve at least two countries, whose officials have different views, which in turn are informed by a range of domestic, foreign and even personal factors. A speech can be broken into several themes, which in turn are held up by certain facts, views, or lies. The unemployment rate, for its part, may be split up by year, socioeconomic class and geography. The breakdown serves the essential function of producing distinct, descriptive categories containing data points: a network of players, a string of arguments, or a set of statistics. via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Your information diet – Synaps source code
    Peter Harling

    MOST OF US only have ourselves to blame as we complain about information overload, and then go on information binging. The explosion of media platforms and communication channels is, by no means, an unsolvable problem. Consuming information in more discriminating, purposive ways must start with each one of us clarifying what, after all, is this information’s purpose. What kind of input is necessary to do my job, really? What do I find truly interesting in what comes my way? Which forms of knowledge do I actually put to practical use, and in what ways? By contrast, what feeds am I plugged into that do not add much to my work routine or overall intellectual life?
    It is likewise useful to question how, practically, we consume information. During what parts of the day, and through which mediums—digital, paper-based or interpersonal—do I acquire and retain meaningful knowledge? And when do I catch myself absorbing information in ways that distract more than they enlighten?
    Indeed, our dominant reflexes often form part of the problem. On one side, we devote excessive energy to the wrong kind of internal communication: bureaucratic processes, countless email chains and group meetings, and the consequent decisions-made-by-committee. On the other, we increasingly turn to social media to track current events, thereby relying on others to curate what might be important to us—a task for which they are not, by default, naturally inclined or well-positioned. via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Why read books ? – Synaps open-source

    CLAIMING TO READ BOOKS is on the way to becoming an admission of idleness. Who can make time, with relentless pressure at work combined with a busy personal life? Why bother in the first place, when we can access information instantaneously, and already sift through ample written content in the form of reports, articles, posts, and text messages? The couple of hours we could devote daily to serious reading, we might as well use to get a life. If it’s a matter of entertainment, relaxation, or even general culture, there are fun museums, great websites, excellent documentaries and a host of leisure activities that will do the trick. Put simply, books are generally hard to write, hard to read, and hard to sell—so what the heck?
    The all-encompassing answer is that hard is beautiful. A great book is an author’s lifetime accomplishment, a long but nonetheless distilled and purified version of his or her experience, intellectual depth and creativity. Conferences, interviews, summaries and other derivative products are but a shadow of the full-fledged work. Indeed, publishing forces an author to give his or her thinking the best possible shape and texture—a demanding exercise that brings out the best in them, too. Naturally, not all books are great, calling for ruthless selection. Shunning the better kind, however, amounts to depriving oneself of some the most enriching moments we can hope for in our own lifetimes. via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Life and death of the knowledge industry, Peter Harling

    Une réflexion approfondie sur la crise de l’industrie du savoir et pourquoi il devient de plus en plus difficile de produire des analyses de qualité. Et les responsabilités sont partagées, y compris celles du public (avec une référence à OrientXXI)

    – Synaps open-source

    The quality conundrum

    WHOM TO TRUST for food for thought? In a confusing world, we are left to opt for one dominant pattern of behavior or the other: to lock ourselves into a bubble, where increasingly prolific media churn out large quantities of whatever material we want to ingest, to fit our interests or emotions; or to drift in limbo, bouncing off such comfort zones in search of bits and pieces of palatable knowledge more suited to a discerning diet. You feast on sweet corroboration, or scavenge for smidgens of reason.
    There is another, more practical way of putting the question: “why is it so hard to access high-quality intellectual content that meets our desire for making sense of troubling trends and events?” Indeed, it has become paradoxically difficult to do so, at a time when cognitive needs, analytic talent, archival references, knowledge-producing institutions, communication tools, and publication platforms are all in abundance. On the face of it, humankind has never been so well-equipped to decipher and rationalize the world, and yet wisdom appears as elusive as ever. Leaving aside the existential interrogations this may raise, there are prosaic explanations for our ongoing failure to obtain content as meaningful as we would hope, and possible remedies too. via Nouvelles d’Orient