If you've seen the film Primer then you'll get the point of this chart. It's part of a larger series from XKCD, every geeks' favourite webcomic, that tracks the narratives of various characters in famous films. If you've seen Primer then the chances are that you've seen this chart since I would imagine that they attract the same kind of person. In fact, the finding of this chart no doubt inspires the watching of Primer and the watching of Primer definitely inspires searching Google for 'what happens in Primer?'
Primer is a film remarked upon for the complexity of its storyline - a parody and parable on time travel and what time travel might actually be like if it were to be discovered by three men in a garage by accident.
Folk have tried to accurately map the unfathomable twists, turns, cycles and repetitions in a plot that on the surface should be very simple but is made intractably complex simply by the conflicting of desires of three average men with a time machine. This is as opposed, to say 12 Angry Men, another film favourite of everyone in the entire world which gets away with lacking time travel or imbued complexity of plot to still deliver an incredible narrative.
Far from wanting to pollute the Internet with another gushing XKCD inspired post I was inspired by this post for a new 'job' on the Ethics For Doing Good blog. The job of a Systems Diplomat is about getting outside of a complex system, recognising its players and parts and understanding how they work with each other and perhaps other systems. How might this work in an lmost literal way when applied to a narrative like that of Primer? An individual who's sole role is to report on complex events such as that of Primer and try to understand them and to make a way for us to understand them.
As our systems become more and more complex as well as unique, specialised and accessible to the average person, events will suffer from being misunderstood in the rush to apportion blame as often happens in the media, most easily seen in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis. Perhaps media outlets and corporations might end up hiring Systems Diplomats that can see through, piece together and understand systems from outside their own area of expertise in order that a proper analysis of events can be conducted.
But the Systems Diplomat must be wary of suffering from from what Borges called 'Dante's paradox.'
External: The System – everyone who resides, participates or is affected by the system
Internal: Own conscience and values
The paradox that anyone who attempts to create a summary of any system (in Dante's case - humanity) inevitably adds to it and so fails to encapsulate it.
(Sorry the posts have been a bit limp-wristed of recent. I'm trying to keep up regular blogging as I used to but there's no point if they're boring or off-tempo. I'll try and post smaller, neater things and less crap.)