Actually I think I’ve written hundreds on all different kinds of places, but I’ve lost track of many of them!
This post is going to be about discrete object theory, i.e. DOT.
What is DOT?
Discrete object theory postulates that an object is separate from another object. And that it is possible and good to draw lines between, say, myself, and a table, so that I can claim an identity that is separate from the table.
Imagine trying to collaborate with an individual for some time. Imagine that their way of doing things is fluid. I think they’re a right-brain creative type, if I’m going to put them in a box. They are often struck with what look like lightning bolts of inspiration. All of a sudden they are going on rambling about something that they want, and the way that they’d like to see it. Perhaps they are addicted to caffeine, which I think fuels further the jumps from thing to thing. Making an idea very accessible to all the people involved in the project does not seem to be a high priority for them. Maybe they occasionally check themselves and try to reword what they’re talking about. But it’s still difficult to follow along.
And once they’re done explaining, and often what they’ve thought of is inspiring to me and other people in the room, there’s no follow-up. They projected an energy out into the world, and that’s it. It’s done. There are no action items. There are no owners. There is no knowing where the notes from that conversation will end up. What are we going to do about this thing that you’ve said you want? Who knows!
Weeks later, it comes to bear that none of their solution has materialized. And suddenly there’s a fire to fight because of it. And then they fight the fires. And then the fire dies down. And I suspect they feel a bit heroic. They like to fire-fight, it’s something that makes them feel good about themselves. Then the cycle repeats.
Standing somewhat on the outside of this, I can see how one could conceive of the idea that they originally had, the idea that was going to solve the problem well in advance, as an object. As like, a thing. Furthermore, I can conceive of tracking the execution of the idea-object using another object, like notes, or a schedule, for example. I can imagine people ‘respecting’ these objects for the value they provide to the project and to the people involved with the project. I think the idea is a discrete object that is separate from the discrete object of its execution. They are starkly two different things. Simply put, thinking of something is not the same as doing it–according to discrete object theory.
On the other hand, to this imaginary person, I think that both the idea and doing the idea may be two ends of a fluid spectrum, or possibly even the same thing. They may be more of a believer (perhaps without knowing it) of not discrete object theory, but the other theory. I call the other theory “the other one”. The reason “the other one” it has no name is…because it’s crazy–it can’t have a name. It’s fluid, things can mean other things, and thinking of an idea can mean the same thing as executing it.
To demonstrate how everything is the same in “the other one”, I’d like to pose a few examples. In “the other one”, I could be the same thing as a table, orange is purple and couches are vomit birds bicycle under German vortex. Basically, everything is everything, and without conceiving of things as discrete objects, everything in this alternate theory is hard to describe with language, and everything feels like nonsense from the perspective of discrete object theory.
From the perspective of DOT, theory of “the other one” is all over the place, and will likely lead to fewer definable accomplishments. But what ‘definable’ and ‘accomplishment’ means is something DOT is great at confirming and storing. That is to say, in “the other one”, ‘definable accomplishments’ is not a thing. It is not an object. Everything is on some kind of spectrum, which itself could be a spectrum, but who knows, anything is possible.
I think DOT people and “the other one” people may find each other frustrating at times.