Our species' principal advantage over others lies in our generality. We can survive a greater range of temperatures than any other creature, but more importantly, we are inventive. Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick celebrated this inventiveness in the famous `thigh-bone to spaceship' fade in the film 2001.
We are all mappers, no matter how little we use the faculty. Those of you who spend time on solitary walks, in heavy metal bars or whatever does it for you, feeling somehow uncomfortable until suddenly a penny you didn't even know you were looking for drops, are already operational. You know who you are!
Otherwise, there is an easy way to start. So easy kids that are trying really hard to be natural mappers often discover it. Get yourself an imaginary friend, as smart as you are, but totally ignorant of the world. Whatever you feel you could relate to - you don't have to tell anyone that you find it easiest to talk to the 1960's cartoon character `Astronut' hovering about in his little UFO with a VHF television aerial on his head. Or maybe Sean Connery's canny medieval investigator in The Name of the Rose would be more fun. Explain everything to your imaginary friend. What it's for. Where it comes from. Where it's going.
At first, your full attention is required for this exercise, but after a while, the logic between knowledge packets becomes as automatic as driving, and your attention is only drawn to unusual situations: pieces of your map that need filling in or contradictions resolving. It works. With your maps building, discussion of techniques is possible, because we all know what we are talking about.
The Ways of Mappers and Packers
It is a surprise to discover that there are two distinct states of mind around us. It is similar to the experience of learning that someone you've known for months is illiterate. At first, you are astonished: this cannot be possible! But then you realize how someone else can live a life very different from yours, that looks superficially almost the same.
In this section, we look at the traits of the two strategies. As we do so, many of the woes of the modern age, particularly in high tech disciplines, will come into a simple picture - the mark of a useful theory! Remember, most people, be they mappers or packers, have no reason to believe there is any other state of mind but theyr's.
Copyright (c) Alan G Carter and Colston Sanger 1997