David J. Cox  Explanation by Pattern  NEW NOTES


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Note:  Additions in the current revision are flagged with a C+ .  These are most likely to be in the Bibliography,  the Definitions, and the New Notes sections.  Revisions are flagged with an R.

3-15-06 New Notes

Please see additions to Definitions, Reference, Poster and Philosophy pages, and Home Page.

1-11-06 New Notes

Please see additions to Definitions, Reference - Internet, and Reference - Books.

9-15-05 New Notes

Everything is ‘in process.’ ….Seeing every thing and every relationship as parts of processes can change and extend  how we understand, use, and explain knowledge systems to others.  The benefits of systems (as different from their outputs) often are not seen as parts of the systems that produce them.  “Fun” or “utility” are not literally ‘parts’ of cars or trucks or buses or tanks or planes, but they are part of larger systems.  For example, the benefits produced by the demonstration (see that section) are not part of the demonstration.  Only the things that produce the benefits are visible parts of the system.  Benefits are explained separately but could have been added.

Process involves movement.  Logic is clearer when process is well-formed (continuous and one-way) among contiguous parts – like continuous production of any manufactured consumer product.  When text’s linear form is used to describe divergent or merging logic paths, the continuous aspect of logic processing is lost along with the well-formedness of clear logic that agents and systems designers and operators and managers and customers would wish for.

8-18-05 New Notes

New scenarios without new frames.  A property that contributes to FLIPP’s efficiency is that adding a new scenario to an Explainer may require adding no new frames.  As in music, one usually need not add new keys to a piano to play new songs.

7-20-05 New Notes

Explainers as gates on circuit boards. Frames are like electrical conduits insulated on both (vertical) sides, with an on/off switch as the top edge and one as the bottom edge. On this basis, frames can be arranged to form any combination of gates to resemble wiring. Notice that illustrations of standard logic gates are not analogs to such wiring.

3-04-05 New Notes

A code which clarifies.   Flipp is a code -- like shorthand and Morse code -- except instead of making messages more mysterious than text, it makes complex messages clearer than text. 

All Variations.   Flipp helps explain any complex subject, including subjects in any form.

10-25-04 New Notes

Character #27.   Our alphabet really has 27 characters:  A through Z is 26, and the 27th is a place holder: a blank space, withoutwhichwrittenlanguagewouldn’tworkverywellbutisnotneededinspeaking.  Character #27 is like the place holder zero, without which mathematics wouldn’t work very well.  FLIPP has its own zero place holder:  an empty frame, without which FLIPP wouldn’t work at all.

7-15-04 New Notes

Look Ahead.  Explainers make it easy for one to look ahead (and to look back) over entire scenarios.  My XP program doesn't show anything past the Start button.

Creating Game Boards.  With FLIPP, one creates a game board for each subject being represented.  This is unlike connections in text, mathematics, and symbolic logic.

5-26-04 New Notes

Right brain gets something to do.  Apparently, the left and right hemispheres of the brain often specialize in the kinds of work they do as a team. In his book, In The Mind’s Eye, Thomas G. West summarizes this duality. It seems to me that this specialization is not allowed to work fully when, as in text, the work of step-by-step reasoning (normally left brain) and the figuring out of structure (normally by the right brain) both default to the left brain – there are no structural items for the right brain to see. FLIPP Explainers supplies both sequential information and, simultaneously, the exact structural information that meaning depends on. 

The following is from his book page 14, by permission: 

"The view of the two hemispheres now commonly accepted is that certain skills and abilities are specialized in one hemisphere while other skills and abilities are specialized in the other.  However, there is often complex interactions between the two hemispheres on any given task.  Abilities such as logic, language, orderliness, sequential time, and arithmetic are seen to be largely specialized in the left hemisphere whereas the processing of visual images, spatial relationships, face and pattern recognition, gesture, and proportion are seen to be specialized in the right hemisphere.  In general, one might say that the left thinks in words and numbers, while the right thinks visually, in pictures and images in three-dimensional space."


In The Mind’s Eye, by Thomas G. West  (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books). Published in 1991.

3-30-04 New Notes

Explainers: Creating vs. reading. This site is designed for people who want to create Explainers. It provides a great deal of background. Making Explainers is often a challenge. In contrast, learning to read them is a snap. Examining the Case Study example is about all one needs to learn to navigate through all Explainers. The readers’ learning curve for seeing connections is flat.

Connect things not previously connected.  Seven basic programming functions (sort, match, etc.) were taught separately using separate flow charts. The seven functions were then represented in a one-page Explainer. Explanation  became much clearer, according to the course teachers.

Simplify how customers connect to your complexity. Complex concepts or procedures can be made clear by creating a simple Explainer of just starting points and ending points.  Your customer may not need a detailed picture of your new system. 

Most connections are invisible. This is important if we believe (as I do) that meaning exists only with connection. Meaning is not clear if connections aren’t clear. Explainers make connections visible without the codes of words or symbols.

Complexity means work!  Figuring out the meaning of unclear text is not fun! It creates uncertainty, shakes confidence, and makes one feel that one’s time is being wasted. By not having to figure out the connection part of what something means, Explainers eliminate work. Ease-of-reading measures like the Flesch readability scale deal with work in reading caused by long words and long sentences. Explainers reduce the number of words often by 90% then go further. They spare us the waste and work of figuring out tangled logic. They can be seen as logically coherent, complete, and unambiguous.

1-1-04 New Notes

10 to 1 page reduction.  A number of planners have reported a 10 to 1 reduction in pages of equivalent text instructions with FLIPP Explainers. The consistency is surprising. Sometimes FLIPPs are very complex; for example, one chart on an 8½ x 11” page contains over 9 million paths formed by 73 frames with 440 words. In contrast, some charts are very simple with only a few frames and paths.  I expect research will show that kindergartners will be able to learn logic with FLIPP.  This is speculation.

 Frames need not be named.  Another FLIPP simplification is that individual frames in Explainers need not be named -- like not having to give names to the parts of cars.

 Publish Explainers with text version.  Although Explainers are useful without an equivalent text version, they can be published with a text version. Some readers may be more comfortable having text available – especially when Explainers are distributed first time. A different twist is for planners to create an Explainer and, without distributing it, use it to design a rigorous text version which is distributed by itself.  (It will likely be indigestible.)

 Inconvenience seems not a problem.  Construction of FLIPP Explainers on computers would seem inconvenient. Text boxes or spreadsheet programs with small cell size have been used for this. However, I have not received any comment about inconvenience from people who have published Explainers. Sometimes copies of hand-drawn charts have been distributed “quick and dirty.”

 Managers and programmers find Explainer format useful.  A machine tool company recently found that the Explainer format was instantly grasped by planners (managers) and implementers (programmers), and that it served these two different informational functions well.

 FLIPP chunks.  In this site, a chunk of information is loosely defined. The term was coined by George A. Miller, a psychologist at Harvard, in an article in the Psychological Review, 63:81-97 (1956): The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two. It suggests that information presented in chunks is more easily dealt with than non-chunked information.  See Simon’s book Models of Thought (1979). Also, see www.chambers.com.au/glossary/chunk.htm accessed 12/28/03

FLIPP Explainers chunks ("frames") are special chunks.  Unlike flow chart figures, they connect directly with each other in ways that represent connections of logic like: IF, THEN, OR, OTHERWISE, AND, NOT, ALWAYS, SOME, NONE, ALL, NEVER, ARE THE SAME AS, ARE COMPRISED OF, and others.  These relationships are represented in FLIPP Explainers without symbols or words.

 FLIPP is a mathematical concept.  The Britannica defines mathematics as “the science of structure, order, and relation that has evolved from elemental practices of counting, measuring, and describing the shapes of objects. It deals with logical reasoning and quantitative calculation …” from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=52650 accessed 12/28/03.

 Poster.   Please invite your associates to visit this site. Post the accompanying poster.  §

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