David J. Cox  Explanation by Pattern  SUMMARY


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"Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors. . . . . Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations." Albert Einstein


Explanations require two kinds of information: information about a subject, and information telling us which chunks of subject information to reason through under different conditions to reach sensible conclusions. There is a problem with conventional text: The line-like form of text sentences shown here does not match the branching patterns of complex explanation that may be hidden inside. A or B looks no different in form from A then B, or A not B, or A and B, or A sometimes B -- but they are different logic.

Sentence.  Sentence.  Sentence.   Sentence.  Sentence.  Sentence.  Sentence.  Sentence.  Sentence.  Sentence.  Sentence. Sentence.

Information in sentence form can’t show us where the chunks of logic are, how they are connected, which conditions affect outcomes, nor any alternate explanation scenarios for readers. Unfortunately, we have to figure them out by reading and analyzing. This can be frustrating and defeating. Notice that all of these confusions exist no matter what the subject matter is.

A way around the confusions occurs in games. In general, games are familiar to even children -- there is a board or playing field on which rules apply.  The simplicity comes from seeing valid patterns of relationships and moving through them. The base runner rounding first sees the ball, the fielders, the coach, and second base in a non-linear pattern and moves through it. Any complex subject can be ‘played’ – explained -- on a game board where everything that counts stays in view while we move to good conclusions according to rules of the game. I am aware of about 100 game board applications of FLIPP, mostly in business.  An example is given in the Case Study section.

An empty game board with 9
frames, 11 explanation paths.

This is an empty miniature game board for some complex subject. Subject information has been removed to focus on how the confusions mentioned above are "explained" visually.  Frames are special chunks of information that can be direct-connected.  A reader navigates top-down to a concluding frame without crossing vertical lines.  The 9 frames form 11 complete explanation paths, all of which are displayed.  A frame can be active in many paths. For example, the frame in the upper left is active in 5 paths.  Extending this idea, the 9 frames together serve as 32 active frames.  Often, 10 pages of complex text instructions collapse to a single-page game board of far greater value than the 10 pages.  New information about relationships ("meaning") becomes available.

The astonishing clarity and speed of game boards lets more people participate in changes that affect them – people of different ages, interests, languages, education, profession, training, knowledge. Explanations whose logic is clear help people live better together. Their environment changes.

The name of the new method is FLIPP Explainers (Format For Logical Information Planning & Presentation). The diagrams produced with FLIPP are called game boards, Flipps, or Explainers. They were invented by your author.§

David J. Cox June 18, 2003 Cincinnati OH 45208 USA


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