Saturday 29 January 2011

Two People, One Valley & A Sunrise.


Setting The Scene

Two people are standing on opposite sides of a valley. They’re facing each other, though they’ve got their heads turned to watch the sunrise. As far as sunrises go, this one is a “beaut”.

To one person (lets call this one ‘A’) the sun is rising on their left hand side and to the other (cunningly named ‘B’) , the sun is rising on their right hand side.

Somehow they can both communicate to each other.

Person A : “Wow, the sunrise taking place on the left is a cracker.”

Person B : “It most certainly is, but don’t you mean to the right?”

Person A : “No, you’re mistaken, it’s rising on the left.”

Person B : “No, you’re mistaken, it’s rising on the right.”

This goes on long enough for them both to miss the remainder of the sunset.

Interesting Points

Firstly, both are right and wrong at the same time. Each persons perspective of the situation becomes fused into their understanding of the truth.

Secondly. It would be easy to state that the actual truth in this scenario is that “the sun is rising”, but that would be our own perspective getting fused into the truth. For example create the scenario on exactly the other side of the world ( Earth Sandwich style ) To these people ( called ‘C’ & ‘D’ ) the sun is setting, not rising.

What is ‘the truth” at work here? Is the truth simply that the earth is moving around the sun? Or is the truth that we’ve missed the sunrise (or set) because we’ve been too busy discussing the mechanics of perspective?

Thirdly, the other question here is that is there any sunset or rise at all if we’re not conscious of it? Take the results of the double slit experiment and apply them to this thought for some real brain bending.

Implications For Design

Amateur philosophy aside, this has real implications in design because before you can solve the problem, you have to identify it. As I’ve pointed out here, even with a seemingly basic situation, the actual problem (what side the sun is actually rising on) is nearly always hiding away in a form you wouldn’t expect.

Sometimes before you can actually discover the problem, you have to allow yourself to be wrong, and for many people (myself included) this is hard, because the ego will do everything in it power to prevent this (we might experience this as feeling ‘defensive’, or the lizard brain).

So the next time you’re confronted with a problem or point of view from someone, allow yourself to be wrong, you may find it liberating. By allowing yourself to be both wrong and right, you’ll be able to consider a bigger picture. You may find the real problem is hiding in it.