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fig.1—nine types of ‘model’ in three parts of speech


       Mind Models place nouns, verbs, and adjectives into visual figures to extend the reach of language past the limits of speech; as such, the semantic whole of a Mind Model is greater than the sum of its lexical parts. For example, you can ‘read out’ each row of fig.1 as a phrase: the parents of our picturesque ‘model family’ imagine that to embody an idealized lifestyle conforms their world to a pre­-approved model—we base our actions on historically successful patterns. For the boy, to emulate a heroic role models his future on another man’s past—by putting ourselves in the shoes of a role­-model, we take on their overt character traits. For the girl, to enact an imaginary narrative composes a whole story from modular parts—every shared culture is a storehouse of archetypal roles, themes and events. Models are both physical and mental, as they transpose abstract ideas and concrete forms from one medium to another. As a schema (a constrained state­-space), a model may be empirical or formal, imagistic or symbolic, real or ideal.

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fig.2—how can we model our model models?


 As immersive­-media artist Olafur Eliasson suggests, “we may work in a very productive manner with reality experienced as a conglomeration of models.” How? Simply by shifting a word into various parts of speech, a Mind Model such as fig.2 can strengthen your grasp on interrelated concepts. Suppose you need to model a formal structure—such as a work or social group: first, you might structure your model forms—pertinent constraints and metrics such as ages, roles and locations; then, by testing your assumptions, you form a structural model to control for variables such as communication flow or shifts in pecking order. Just as Eliasson puts it, “Rather than seeing model and reality as polarized modes, they now function on the same level. Models have become co­-producers of reality.” Models merge scientific artifice with artful science; Eliasson and Feynman both demonstrate a high level of “graphicacy” (Edward Tufte’s term, coined on the model of ‘literacy’), of proficiency working with visual, spatial, and topological models.

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