Coming Anarchy 10, The Gap

Note: This is a selection from Coming Anarchy, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06






Finding a Gap

“You cannot transform a domain unless you first thoroughly understand how it works (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996).”
As stated in the section above, in order to continue the important work of a particular domain one must be able to find the areas which need attention and further exploration. However as we learned in class, in order to do this you must first know everything you can about the current domain in which you hope to make a contribution. This is probably why it takes so long to become recognized as an expert in a field, as well as the general applicability of the 10-year rule of thumb. Once you have mastered the domain, you are then ready to make the necessary changes to it. However, you need to be able to see where those changes need to be made, and how you can contribute to your domain. As it was put so eloquently by someone in class, “you must first master the domain, and then set it aside.”

Relevant Quotes From Interviews (Select):

Without being asked a direct question about how they find a gap in the domain to fill, the following answers were given within the context of answering other, unrelated questions:
Chirol: “Any blogger can read an activist site or CNN on the West Bank, but when I visited there for example and provided not only unique pictures but also on the ground input, that’s quality…”
Curzon: “We’d like to add someone else who can cover every corner of the globe from a non-partisan realistic point of view, but have a focus of expertise in a particular region, either India, Africa, or Latin America. In addition, we’d like this person be a native English speaker, but also speak at least one foreign language; have extensive travel experience; time lived overbroad; at [a] minimum a mild appreciation of Robert D. Kaplan’s work; and several months of blogging experience. We have yet to find that person, but we’re still looking.”
Younghusband: “Try making a website in the 21st century that is supposed to communicate Victorian era colonialism.”

Organizing The Information From The Quotes (Organize):

Each subject emphasized a personal accomplishment as leading to something that improves the domain with minimal prompting. Such statements require knowledge of the domain and areas where the domain is lacking. Specifics ranged from travel (Chirol), to philosophy (Curzon), to communication design (Younghusband).

Association With Our Course Readings (Associate):

“A musician must learn the musical tradition, the notation system, the way instruments are played before she can think of writing a new song; before an inventor can improve on airplane design he has to learn physics, aerodynamics, and why birds don’t fall out of the sky (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996).”
“[Individuals must decide] whether to invest in the perfection of domain practices or attempt to overthrow them (Gardner, 1997).”

Nagging Questions (Regulate):

Where is the boundary between mimicking the experts in a field and determining where they are lacking and then moving into those uncharted territories? Might creative people develop an “explicit theory of the domain” before one of themselves? Therefore, should future researchers look there first?

Coming Anarchy, a tdaxp series:
Coming Anarchy 1: Introduction
Coming Anarchy 2: Methods and Analysis
Coming Anarchy 3: Identity
Coming Anarchy 4: Failure
Coming Anarchy 5: Obsession
Coming Anarchy 6: Sacrifices
Coming Anarchy 7: Humility
Coming Anarchy 8: Geography
Coming Anarchy 9: Recognition
Coming Anarchy 10: The Gap
Coming Anarchy 11: Conclusion

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