Panta Rhei Blog

oCoC: complex & simple, difficult & easy

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Hey, Friend,

I keep using the word complex a lot. And it is not simple. It does not have to be difficult either. It can be easy. And simple can be difficult. Agreed? Or confused?

This is how I am using these words: I say complex when I see many different parts or variables that interact. Again and again. The system is dynamic. It changes. It is complex. When you plot how the system – or only one of its variables – changes over time, you get a nonlinear graph and not a straight line. It is complex. If there is only one variable – which is very rare – then its change is simple. The change is steady. Cause and effect are proportionate. The graph is linear. Simple. David Snowden calls these simple problems.

Most things, most processes are complex. It’s the interacting parts and variables. A complex process or even a task does not have to be difficult. Difficult is subjective. It is a category of our mind. Complex is a feature of the thing itself. Simple is a feature of the thing itself. So, I can experience the simple as difficult. (And personally, then I am procrastinating or it is more likely that I do.) And of course, I can find the complex easy. If I put my mind to it and tackle it now.

pre: Each day, each week, …

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Denn immer, immer wieder geht die Sonne auf 
Und wieder bringt ein Tag für uns ein Licht 
Ja, immer, immer wieder geht die Sonne auf 
Denn Dunkelheit für immer gibt es nicht 

For every morn again the sun is rising
And anew a day brings us a light
Yes, every morn again the sun is rising
As darkness forever does not exist

Thomas Hörbiger/ Udo Jürgens, 1967

Hey, Friend,

I don’t think I have started any blog post on Panta Rhei with poetry. It was time. Time to change it up a little. Time to write. Time to post something more lyrical here and not just on Texterium. Time.

What does this have to do with complexity, a regular reader of this blog has asked. And what does it have to do with change? It’s where the change comes from: a new day, a new week, … Each moment is new. Time changed from a moment ago. I changed from a moment ago. You changed from a moment ago. And who knows what the next moment will be like. What the new day will bring … What the long weekend will bring … (For me, this weekend starts today. On Friday.) Let’s make a whish, then it will be good. Things will change. As they always do in their complex ways.

Oh, and what does the pre in the heading mean? P R E … Panta Rhei Enterprise. I have put posts in categories. This little one is a meta-post. On topic. And on the blog itself.

A good day to all.

oCoC: Sign here

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On the complexity of change

Hey, Friend,

Yes, I have never signed these blog posts. I did not think it necessary. I write a lot more than a signature about myself in two other places: the short version and the long version. No signature on these pages either. I guess, one just does not do that. People put their sign in other places. I sign emails. And so do my colleagues. The other day, one colleague told me that he and a few others did an informal study of these automatically added bits of text, and they all agreed they liked mine. I really appreciated the comment. I had had comments on my emails on occasion, but never on the signature. This is what it looks like during the – work – day.

=================
Mathias Schulze, PhD

https://texterium.org/ and @mat_schulze and https://pantarhei.press/
he works at SDSU-LARC and the Dept. of European Studies
and now lives on the land of the Kumeyaay
[SDSU logo]

The full name, three short lines of text, and a small picture of four letters. Others have shorter signatures or no added auto-text at all. And yet others, have auto-text that is longer than the text body. So, what does it say? I sign – from Latin signare “to set a mark upon, mark out, designate; mark with a stamp; distinguish, adorn.” There often is a lot in a word, and I believe it is useful to play with words.

A tiny piece of canned text. Where is the complexity? What does this have to do with change? The change makes it complex.

In the beginning, I had no signature. Well, before that I had no email. In the early 1990s, I started with Pine and then Elm. I subscribed to some distribution lists to get at least an email or two a day. The list I remember fondly got me one or two essayistic and narrative texts from Mark Warschauer each week. In the late 90s – I still had no signature – the IT staff told me that I should delete some read and saved emails in my folder structure, because I was getting very close to my quota of 10 Megabytes on the mailserver. [Exponential growth in storage space, the staff could not predict!] And then the signatures came, giving complete mail addresses and telephone and fax numbers. Was I hoping to get a letter or phone call instead? And then, titles. Others added accolades. The fax number, I deleted soon from the “bottom lines”. Address and phone number were longer than the URL of a home page and my sig was shorter again. I like it that way.

Colleagues began to add quotes, statements, and stories. I added links. I like traffic on the blogs, on a website, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, still hoping there will be days on which I which I am using more time writing and reading for these media than for email. And colleagues added gender identification, job titles, and land acknowledgements.

I have lived in many different places; does it still matter what I am a native of? As a boy, I watched East German Westerns, in which the Sioux, the Delaware, the Mohicans, the Apache, and the Seminoles were the main characters. Courageous, strong, smart, and true. I wanted to be like them. And in 2001, I got much closer. For sixteen years, I lived on the Haldimand Tract, six miles on each side of the Grand River, the land of the Haudenosaunee. I like to acknowledge that I am now beginning to learn about the Kumeyaay.

With many first names, I am unsure about the person. Should I use he or she when I email about Pat? Or Sasha? It’s a new custom to list pronouns after the name. They are short and clear. As a linguist, I did not want to list them; these little words live from their context, and I did not want to deprive them unnecessarily. So, I wrote a little sentence in the signature. The subject pronoun got an antecedent (a word to which it refers back) – the signer of the email by name – and it hooks up with the verb work, which makes it happy, grammatically speaking. And that’s what I do during the day – work. Like many, many others. I try to do my work as best I understand, as they do theirs. And then I write and read emails. With a short signature. On the weekend, I carve out some time to write other texts. No signature. Yet.


I am getting back to writing these short – or longer – texts on the complexity of change, exploring different examples and grappling with necessary concepts. Using my theoretical lens to better understand practical things, stuff I stumbled over, processes that proceed or peter out, … You can look at them in the order in which I wrote them, and once in a while, I make an attempt to sort them in a linear order.

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