Everything connects to everything else
A quote said by no other than Leonardo DaVinci himself.
With time I started to gain more and more appreciation to the significance of this quote. It really does seem to be the case that everything in our world is connected together on some level. More so, everything can be described in a language, we humans created and called math. We can observe the changes in our world and attempt to see patterns in these changes. With enough observation we can effectively predict certain phenomena based on the probabilities of it occurring.
However describing these things in terms that make sense to us, humans, is hard. English is a wonderful tool that allows us to communicate and deliver our thoughts and feelings. However not all can be said in words. There was a beautiful scene in a movie, Waking Life. One of many. In it, it touches on limitations of language. In that, meaning of words is essentially a personal interpretation. Word love, for example, although can be described by a dictionary, means different things for different people. There is of course a common idea of what word love should mean but the specifics of it vary depending on the circumstances of how the human was brought up and what love he felt during his life.
Math on the other hand is a language strictly defined. There is no other interpretation. The language is limited by how it should behave with other mathematical constructs. It is a language of relations and symmetry. Attempting to see this underlying beauty and symmetry is key to uncovering more of this nature’s wonders.
There was an interesting question on Reddit that asked how come when we are throwing a ball to another person, our body can magically calculate the trajectory of its travel, adjust to the wind difference and do it all so fast. But when we try and sit down and try to put it all to mathematical terms on paper, it will take a lot longer. The answer given to this was evolution.
In the first circumstance, our brain coordinates all these actions. A task it has evolved to do over a long period of time. Attempting to abstract this event in terms of this foreign to us, language will take time. The mechanics of throwing a ball had to be learned, just as underlying physics had to be learned.
There’s one more quote that I like.
“All roads lead to Rome.”
Interpretation of which will again differ from person to person. What I see in this quote is that there is some underlying truth to it all. Our existence. Our consciousness. We are a network of things, atoms, aware that we exist. How strange is this?
There are four more ideas I want to touch on.
The first one is my belief that all conscious living organisms on this planet are fundamentally explorers. We are thrown into this environment and we have to survive and adapt and the first lesson that evolution taught us is that to do so, you have to explore your surroundings. There is an incredible amount of territory still left untouched and unseen by us. There is even more amount of connections that have not been made between things. Everything connects to everything else. We just have to see it. I find this pursuit of knowledge and understanding very rewarding. Knowing that I will never really understand the true nature of our reality is exciting. It means my curiosity will never be satisfied. There is always a question that I can ask.
This brings us to my second idea. I believe that internet is absolutely the best thing that has happened to our humanity. It allows us to transcend ourselves and become transhumans. We have all the knowledge of the world at our finger tips. If the question has been asked before, there is most certainly and answer to it somewhere. We are the walking sum of knowledge of the world and yet often we forget that. We just have to ask the right question.
For majority of us, our gateway to the internet and all its knowledge is the search engine of our choice. But the search engine requires a query. You need to know what you are looking for and if you don’t, then this search is not of that much use to you. This poses a major problem that I think is not being addressed well. We are standing on shoulders of giants and we don’t know it. We don’t know what we don’t know. There is a wealth of information out there but it is often thrown around in separate chunks where it is a lot difficult to make connections between everything. There are efforts made to curate this knowledge like this Awesome list of lists, or Computer Science degree list or this Coding Interview University list or even this Awesome list of Awesome lists. And so it goes.
The third idea that is very dear to my heart is my belief that knowledge and education has to be free and available for all. Humans should have the ability to get an answer to the question that they have and have that answer be unaltered for the means of staying in power and brainwashing people into thinking a certain thing. Of course that, also depends on the person consuming the information. All should question everything that they read and reaffirm themselves with how this particular idea fits in into the grander scheme of things.
“Does it make sense for it to be here?“
“Should I change something in my world view to understand this?“
“Perhaps I am missing something, in order to understand what this is trying to say?“
“What am I missing?”
These are all very useful questions to ask yourself as you explore and uncover more and more truths of this world. But to bring the focus back to my third idea. I genuinely believe that projects like Khan Academy are phenomenal in that they are built on this underlying idea.
Knowledge. Free for all. At all times.
My final idea is one that brings it all together. The idea of sharing. We are where we are right now because other humans shared their discoveries. Humans have written books to transcribe their knowledge in form of text for others to get a glimpse of what they are thinking. How they are thinking. We build on this knowledge and create new things. We connect the dots.
Don’t be afraid to share your discoveries. Don’t be afraid to share what you know. Don’t be afraid to share your creations. We all have a common goal here. To explore and do it together.
Four ideas. One of exploration. One of discoverability. One of opening up knowledge to all. And finally one of sharing.
I have written briefly about how I use my mind maps before. I have now managed to connect the dots and come up with a framework that will allow me to share all my research and knowledge with all, at all times and have it be discoverable in an easy way. I made a mind map. You have already seen it as a caption to this article but here it is one more time.
And here it is for you to explore interactively.
There are just few things you should know to navigate it. Each node in this mind map represents an idea or a topic or a question. The big mind map that you see above is the entry point. Each node that is underlined is a hyperlink that will lead to another mind map or a link. In the main research mind map, each of the nodes will lead to another mind map where I delve further into each topic. I add resources. Ask questions. Add my own notes and my own interpretation. I add terms that I need to understand. And I connect it all with arrows.
Arrows are amazing in that they allow me to make the connections between things in a visual way. An arrow may be a connection or a direct dependency in that if an arrow is outgoing from some node, to another node, than I probably need to understand that node first. They can also act as directions, to guide me, or you, the stranger on the internet, through my thought process.
Right now, not many of these nodes are underlined. Its humbling to know just how much I don’t know but that brings a very exciting challenge with it as well. I have a life long mission to learn and I have a life long mission to share my knowledge. I also believe that learning for the sake of learning is not very productive. I love to create and build things.
You may also be asking, how is it possible to maintain this in a feasible way? To that, my answer lies in how I have in some way broken the brain computer interface barrier with my keyboard customizations. I still can’t fire up Alfred by thinking of a thought although I believe that will be possible in the future. I can however open Alfred with just pressing two keys, jl. I can Google search by pressing two keys, jk. For more you can see here. Also all the text on my computer is actionable. In that I can select some text and then press combinations of keys to do something with that text. Holding a and pressing space will google for that text. Pressing w and space will make a wiki search of the text. Q + space = will search on Quora. E + space = will paste selected text into MindNode. R + space = will create new 2Do task with this text. Z + space = will search on YouTube. V + space = will search on Google Images. And so on.
This has absolutely transformed me and the way I interact with my computer.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and you will enjoy what is literally my mind map. I am 21 years old now and this is only the beginning of it. And that I think is exciting.
To end this, I will share my final and perhaps my favorite quote by a man who literally changed the way I think, Alan Watts. I think our world would be a better place if we all studied his work.
“We thought of life by analogy with a journey, a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end, and the thing was to get to that end, success or whatever it is, maybe heaven after you’re dead. But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.”