THE CONSTRUCTION OF AN
In other texts the process of integration is explained, as well as the integrative style in texts:
Integration In this page we'll dwell on the procedure of developping integrative websites. These insights will progress together with the experience of building some integrative sites, including a site on Integrative Psychology (in Dutch, continuing on-line a project started up in 1978 by the Academy for Integrative Psychology with a first publication in 1980), a site on the Emerging Noosphere, a book on Teilhard-Whitehead developed by two authors who even don't know each other (with comments by a list of readers), and a site on Integral Politics.
The integrative editing style
The Procedure of Conceptual Integration
At the same time Integrative Logics will be developped, a new kind of logic different from the traditional Logic. Where the latter is deductive (from premisses to conclusions), integrative logic is inductive, because it is a tool to develop, directly and indirectly, new hypotheses. In the past each kind of induction (also in experimental, exact science) was intuitive. In fact, the only thing exact science added to human knowledge from Renaissance on, was a controlling tool: hypothese were examined by comparing their predictions with real experiments or measurements, and hence refuted or confirmed. But there was no useful intellectual tool to develop a hypothesis: this creative process remained up to now within the domain of the subconscious, although many philosophers and scientists up to now searched during centuries for an inductive logic.
Although integration is --as an intuitive methodology-- of all times, used by scientists, artists and all kinds of creative thinkers, it was used pre-consciously by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) and Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1949), and could be used in the paper and print era, the arrival of Internet definitely opened an easy and effective way to bring contrasting visions together and to integrate them. Internet is not only a communication tool, but thanks to the internet experience a new form of consciousness emerges in even more people, who realize the paramount importance of integration, and start using this attitude in their lives, not only intellectually, but progressively also in their private and professional life.
Perhaps I do exaggerate, but I've the feeling that we are performing something really novel, unequalled up to now in the history of humanity and the Internet --at least, I'm not aware of any other integrative projects on the Net. It seems to be the first time up to now, that people, not even knowing each other (apart from mails) start thinking and acting together on a global scale.
A quick reminder of the Definition of Integration
Although this word is becoming increasingly popular (even Ken Wilber started using it form the early 2000s on, apart from his cherished "integral"), not everybody uses it in the same meaning. There are, in fact, 3 levels of (conceptual) integration:
1. Just bringing several appoaches together, to sensitize the audience for the multiple facets of a phenomenon. This approach is synonymous with multidisciplinarity. In the same line of thought some psychotherapists who extend their psychological work to somatic aspects and aiming at a psychosomatic equilibrium, call themselves integrative.Eclecticism, taking the best of all worlds, is an analogous approach.
2. Synthesizing one "unified" theory out of several theories. Two depths can be discerned here, although the boundary between both is of course imprecise:
(a) Too often this second mode of integrating remains more or less superficial, and is characterized by complex tables where the contributions of several theories are juxtaposed, only partially integrated, or compromises are made. It suggests that integration is little more than giving new names to old concepts. This kind of integration (synthesis should probably be a more appropriate name) is impressive by an overwhelming number of quoted authors. This kind of integration is typical for authors who hold their knowledge primarily from reading, and don't have a practical, realistic experience within the field where they integrate, resulting into a real danger for underestimating the imponderable aspects of the topic.
(b) But a real, in depth integration at this level requires the study of the underlying processes (as is suggested by our theoretical description of the integration process). This often results into something, often --but not always-- much simpler and more comprehensive than the original theories.
3. Integration as a scientific tool. This third --and the only complete-- mode of integration uses the integrative procedure as a tool for scientific plausibility, completing and often transcending exact scientific reliabilty which is limited to fields where exact measures and experiments can be performed --the physical sciences. Integrative science considers that plausibility --rather than the obsolete term truth-- increases with the number of hypotheses that are integrated into one, on condition that an in depth integration of the underlying processes is performed. Although one would suppose academic circles will be enthusiastic with this new form of scientific thinking, the opposite is rather true. Not only our academic system is built upon the principle of hyperspecialization (knowing more and more about less and less), while a more appropriate "university" should be fundamentally more "universal", probably favouring another kind of intellectuals. But also scientific publications --at least in "inexact" domains-- ought to be completely different. And presumably psychological resistance will be important as well.
Of course, constructing an integrative site employs this third, complete definition of integration.
There exists, as explained elsewhere, also factual integration, and if this factual integration concerns information devices (computers, organization of the company, "integrated" circuits) it seems to be a kind of conceptual integration. But factual integration most often is very hierarchical: data go bottom up and instructions go top down. Conceptual integration is, by its very essence, "peer to peer": it's a kind of cooperative thinking.
The integrative stages
These three phases are in fact the fundamental stages of creative thinking, a processual phenomenon: C-S-R.
One starts with a simple compilation of the contributions, ordered along their contribution date, because often (not always) the later comments are inspired by the previous postings. Often it is useful to indent or to colour the comments, as to show the original contributon. And comments can elicit comments. Compilation is often hampered by poor participation from the visitors of the site or the members of the eList. This problem is very common, as most internet surfers are more motivated to show their own intellectual productions rather than looking for an integration by constructive commenting others' contributions.
In a second stage texts are more and more "disentangled", and put together by their meaning. Progressively, a logical scheme emerges, suggested by the spontaneous contrubutions. Intuitive creativity is active here, leading to the formulation of a logical scheme.
In a third movement, longer texts of lists of ideas are replaced by new formulations. The original contributions can be kept as illustrations and "proofs" of the advanced hypothesis, or completely reformulated. This third movement is the most creative stage, wherein underlying processes are consciously described.
Especially the S and R stages are the two aspects of creative thinking: the intuition of a new scheme or conceptual frame (with an underlying, implicit hypothesis) and the explication or explicit formulation of a that hypothesis. The C stage is not yet a creative stage in itself, but is very fertile to elicit creativity.
The site construction stages
1. The start
One starts, of course, with one webpage, which contains the first correspondence about teh idea of creating an integrative website, even if some founders don't be explicitly conscious about the notion of integration, but use motivations as "the need to show people what we are doing" or "enhance the communication between us".
2. Splitting up the pages
After a while --from hours to months-- the volume of the contents of this starting page becomes too large (somewhere around 100K), splitting up is indicated, where one tries to group the contents around some central topic. The several pages are, of course, linked to each other, by separate links (at the beginning of conclusion of the text, or in a separate column) of directly form links within the text.
Several dividing criteria can be used:
- just breaking up into first, second, etc. part.
- grouping by topics; digressions on one specific topic can be put in a linked, separate page, a kind of hypertext link.
- separating general, formal, organizational considerations from concrete, applicational questions.
- integrative logic can suggest typical splits.
3. Merging with other integrative sites
If the site is really integrative, one day it will merge with other one or more other sites, aiming at the same goal. Eventually, should the integrative movement prevail across the Net, one integrative network could emerge.
In a transitory stage, both sites will intensively link to each other, and even mirror some of their webpages. There is also functional integration: the different sites are not formally linked, their pages belong to independent sites, but an integrative site links them as if it were one comprehensive site. A search engine more or less acts this way, and especially the totally automatized NEWS site of Google is such a virtual "supersite". In fact, each site with links (and which site doesn't have links!) is a kind of functional supersite.
The integration of integrative sites will not be an easy process, because so many psychological factors concerning motiuvation, personal proud, aesthetic taste, and perhaps also linguistic and/or financial aspects, come into account. It is thinklable that somebody presents his site as an integration, inviting other people to contribute, but uses it as a source of inspiration for his own intellectual pursuits.
The way of developing an integrative website
Concerning the way of building up an integrative site, what seems to be the most appropriate form is what I call the try-and -evaluate approach. Unlike during the parchment and the printing days it is now, thanks to computers and internet, very easy, quick and cheap to visualize what one is developing. This is, in my opinion, the tertiary approach: processual, interactive. As said the ancient gnostics, genuine insight doesn't exist without (emotional) experience. Otherwise, as Freud stated, it is pure projection. Things can be changed very smoothly, nearly immediately. The fact a projected version is shown doesn't mean that it is supposed to be final, or that I will turn tired to make changes.
Inductive / Integrative Logics: see another page
Logical frames: see another page
Some technical aspects
Up to now all this integrating labour has to be done by humans, typing on a keyboard. Of course, in the age of Internet this task is extremely simplified by smooth copying, pasting and editing facilities.
But I'm convinced that, even today, much more assisting software could be available. I call this KIS (Knowledge Integrating Software). This could, of course, demand some discipline from the primary authors to allow easy retrieval of bits of text, and have an idea about the content without completely understanding it by the computer. Of course, the proposed integration could be reviewed by a human before publishing it.
Some concrete ideas:
- it should be possible to indicate in an integrative site all the passages added or edited since a certain date, and for the visiting computer to remember the date of the last visit to a certain page, at least during some time (as now the visited links are remembered).
- it should be possible to point to a particular location in a certain webpage, not only to the locations (text#place) provided by the author. And to show just a part of another site, not necessarily the whole of it. Simple search routines could perform that. Why didn't Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau think about it when they invented html... :-)
- it should be possible to see the webpage at different levels, just by clicking or touching keys:e.g. an upper level, with just the titles, the abstracts, the normal text, and the text extended with the additions, examples, notes and proofs, and, why not, added comments and proposed integrations.
- Of course, some advanced ways of idea notation, including Joe Voros's notation style, should make it much more easier for KIS.
- the use of standardized titles (Introduction, Definition, Examples, etc.) and symbols e.g. 1. 2. 3. : sequential steps, 1) 2) 3) possibilities, alternatives, 1] 2] 3] aspects or constituents, -> effective result or consequence, => logical conclusion, etc., could be indicated and be a part of the author's discipline.
Some Psychological aspects
Integrating inisghts is a new way of research and communication, and its commodoties have to be clarified and discussed progressively. Thanks for all comments: they bring us steps forward.
1. The low participation problem
This problem is general in any kind of communication. It is already discussed in http://noosphere.cc/synergy.html
One way of getting more feedback is, of course, to give feedback on the contributions of others. Or integrating their visions and quoting them. But this is not as easy as it seems at first glance.
2. The Courtesy of Consent
There is some psychological reluctance can hamper the elaboration of a new integration. As well intellectual as emotional/psychological factors explain theis resistance. If one is convinced of a particular concept, this probably means that incongruent evidence probably is absent in the experience of that person. Often, to be able to adapt one's conviction, new experience is necessary. In a discussion forum such new experience is not easily available. Furthermore, emotional and motivational aspects, from the proud by one's creativity to the phantasmatic superiority over intellectual competitors, provoke very strong resistance against replacing one's contribution with an integrative one.
A kind of psychological resistance was formulated so eloquently by one eList member:
Personally, I will want to be asked for my agreement before any list contributions or texts I have written are posted on a website. I don't want to have a somewhat sloppy list mail I wrote in response to someone else to be posted out of context in a setting that presents it as something other than it was. I guess other people might feel in a similar way, so please ask before using such texts. Of course he is right --from a secondary point of view. Everyone owns his own products, even delivered to a list. And I see --staying within the secondary sphere with rights, contracts, etc.-- only a few solutions:
Some of the things I write are not my final position and there is a serious risk of things being taken out of context.
- asking an agreement by the other [the solution proposed by Thomas]
- not citing the author/source -- thus, in our "integrative" pages, I mentioned sometimes the author, but sometimes not, expecting your reactions, because honestly I didn't know very well which is the best.
- reformulating someone's contribution (which occurs often)
- integrating it in one's own concepts (which is the very method by which science and culture progress since hundreds of centuries).
- prohibiting: it is also possible to include in the regulations of an eList that quotes cannot be used outside the list, and that members who don't respect this condition will be excluded form the list. But the reformulation "danger" can not be prevented, and is eventually the very purpose of the list: to inspire one's ideas by the ideas of others. The webmaster/integrator has an editorial responsibility.