The rigorous humility of confusion

The rigorous humility of confusion

'A lightness in the way we hold thoughts gives us room to learn and shift perspective, and to keep a rigorous humility of confusion.'

I've been reading Nora Bateson (grand daughter of the great Gregory). It’s elliptical and elusive in places but gorgeous and challenging in its thinking about complex systems and ecologies, and in the arrangement of fragments which leads you to form your own multiple layers of meaning.

‘To generate swathes of homogenised perception is not only zombie-like, it’s a crisis of metaphor…Specialised and separated, the ideas that so badly want to twist and frolic around each other are captive. Held in hoarding holding patterns, the poor things are braced to fear thieves…This language and culture favour singular focus, clear definitions, and linear narratives of causation. A plus B equals C. If you do not have enough data on A and B, then you should see the authority of experts of either A-ness or B-ness.’

‘On a good day we understand ecology as a living pattern of relationships, a co-evolving set of relational dynamics between parts of a system.’

I very much like a rigorous humility of confusion.

She also proposes the idea of ‘warm data’  rather than big data, as one of the most important concepts for us to pay attention to. I’ve come across this idea of hers before and really like it in the context of current knowledge management work. Warm data is information about interrelationships.  Given that essentially the best knowledge management is all about what happens between people in a knowledge-enabling environment, warm data feels like a useful knowledge concept to consider.


Nora Bateson  'Small arcs of larger circles - framing through other patterns', Triarchy Press, 2016
Nora Bateson 'Liminal Leadership' , Kosmos Magazine, Fall/Winter 2017
Karl Blossfeldt, photographer, 1863 - 1932