I need your help: My problem in understanding all the metaphors and theories


After reading the above paper on complexity and information overload in Society, I seemed to agree with the conclusions by the author.  And I would like to thank the author for the great insights


Complexity and Information Overload in Society:


why increasing efficiency leads to decreasing control



CLEA, Free University of Brussels, Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium


However, I also found my problem.

As a Chartered Professional Engineer with an engineering background,  I thought it won’t be difficult at all for me to understand the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Entropy, etc. as I still recalled those topics that were learnt some 30 years ago.  Also, the concept of friction is easy for me to comprehend, and I think it would be of great interest to use those metaphors to explain those phenomena and analyse the system. 

However, when I read further, I found it really difficult to understand what those metaphors mean.  I understand the need of metaphors to explain some complicated concepts, but start to wonder why we are so used to the metaphors?

I am pondering on these:

1. Are metaphors helping me to understand the complexity of the subject? 

My answer: No

2. Are metaphors being used appropriately?

My answer: I don’t know, because this is a judgment made that is unfair to the author, who has no way of explaining to me why he/she did it.

3. Why are people so used to metaphors?  Is it a pop? Is it a myth? Or is it Ephemeralization?

My answer: I don’t know, but it seems people like it. But do people understand it?

4. Are there any simpler ways of explaining those complicated concepts in theories (learning theory in particular)?

My answer: I would like to know, if someone could explain them to me without any metaphors

5. Who are the readers of this paper?

My answer: Must be academia or researcher? But am I?

6. Who can help me?

 My answer: the authors, and you??


1. When I read a blog, I hope to understand what the blogger is thinking, and of course it would be a gift to me if the blogger has synthesised all reflections in the readings.  So many thanks to those bloggers who have inspired me with the excellent “collectives”.  And I thank you very much for reading my blog.

2.  I am used to communicate in simple plain English.  So, I often need help when I read forum threads or blogs which are explained in a metaphorical way.  However, I am hesitant in asking for an explanation of those metaphors…. simply because I don’t want to embarrass the writer or blogger.  So, please help me.

Does it echo with you?

I sincerely hope that our learning is based on simple theory, though we are living in a complicated environment.  And I think we need a simple learning theory that most of us could understand, even though if it is not perfect.  Please see my previous post of Learning Theory.

Are we sure that we understand such complicated metaphors?

Are we sure that we understand the theories?

If we couldn’t understand it, how could we expect our coming generation understand it?  I know it’s harsh to any researchers, but I think this is a reality, at least for me. 

Can we keep it simple? KIS    …….






My view on the paper relating to complexity theory

Hi Jenny,
I have the same view as yours, when I read the article.  I don’t see how elegant it was a solution, by the use of complexity theory.  Throughout my last 9 years of on-the-job training and assessment with few hundreds of trainees and supervisors here in Australia, I have been using a similar approach as that cited, only to add the human elements into the learning, without bordering too much about “computer networks”. 

Rather, we don’t need to rely on the computers that much.  We could rely on the job itself as the training ground and learning platform.  In essence, the job is the training, and the learning takes place in an emergent manner.  In this manner, connectivism is always built into the work, especially when people are using emails, websites, computer networks and various technology tools.

So, I don’t see anything that is amazing, even if they were quoting from great theories found.

Also, this was based on just one research finding.

One could conduct numerous research on all these case studies, only to find that the results of each case would be different, mainly because the learners are different and the context are different. 

What I think is most important comes back to 3 main points:
1, Human element must be given the highest priority in any learning environment
2. A choice of education and learning must be offered to the learners.    
3. A learning paradigm of letting the learners to learn what, when, where, how and who to learn with is of paramont importance.

I will continue my response later..  To be continued.