Convergence Design Examples Two

by Luke Wroblewski September 10, 2004

“Consilience is the key to unification: literally a jumping together of knowledge by the linking of facts and fact-based theory across disciplines to create a common groundwork of explanation. A balanced perspective cannot be acquired by studying disciplines in pieces but through the pursuit of consilience among them.” –Edward O. Wilson, Consilience

Convergence design principles emerge in diverse applications. A few recent examples:

Expertise Gaps "Sometime in 1996, while having lunch, it occurred to Gordon Rugg that he could pull together all the tools psychologists use -elicitation techniques, the vast literature on human error, decision making models, formal logic and reasoning -to create a novel form of problem-solving."

"Experts want to believe that their domain is unique, requiring specialized tools, approaches, and thinking. Rugg was saying no, you could use one kit to solve a million problems, in many fields. He's asking: can you look at the commonality between two domains of research and solve problems within them with a single approach?"

"With the verifier approach, Rugg begins by asking experts to draw a mental map of their field. From there, he stitches together many maps to form an atlas of the universe of knowledge on the subject. 'You look for an area of overlap that doesn't contain much detail,' he says. 'If it turns out there's an adjoining area which everyone thinks is someone else's territory, then that's a potential gap.'"

"This 'expertise gap' is rife in academia, but few recognize it, let alone know how to correct for it. It starts with the best of intentions. Institutions want top-notch people, so they offer incentives to attract and groom experts. Young grad students learn early that if they want to carve out a niche, they must confine their interests to a narrow field. It's not enough to work in spinal cord regeneration; it must be stem cell-based solutions to the problem. That's great if a researcher just happens to stumble on a perfect stem cell cure. But as specialists get further from their core expertise, the possible solutions - what's been tried, what hasn't, what was never properly examined, what ought to be tried again - get even more elusive."

Math and the Mona Lisa “The science of looking at art: is there something about an image that perhaps communicates with our subconscious? Many of the most famous paintings in history incorporate some basic mathematical concepts in their composition often mimicking what we see in nature and making them more appealing to our subconscious.”

“Most of the scientists in the Renaissance learned to observe from the artists of the Renaissance.” - Math and the Mona Lisa: The Art and Science of Leonardo daVinci